Pacman v. Bigman: Pacquiao and Drilon Take the (Senate) Ring

by: JD Garcia (Photo credit: Senate PRIB and Rappler)

Imagine, two men engaged in a battle trying to one-up each other. The eyes of the public well locked on them as they take turns throwing jabs and taking hits. Sounds like a boxing match? Well, fights happen in and out of the ring but in this instance, what’s involved is a combat of wits, not fists.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, you would have heard about the mental fisticuffs that happened between the Senator Drilon aka the Bigman and Senator Pacquiao aka the Pacman in the Senate. (This isn’t the first time this has happened, by the way.) Ordinarily, something like this would have gone by without the media making a big fuss about it. However, since it involved our beloved moustached national treasure, it unavoidably made the headlines. So what happened?

Round 1: The PBC

Sen. Pacquaio is proposing the passage of Senate Bill No. 1306 or the Philippine Boxing Commission Act of 2017[1] into law. The bill seeks to create the Philippine Boxing Commission (“PBC”) with the objectives of:

  1. strengthening the boxing industry towards developing world-class boxers; and
  2. utilizing the sport for revenue and employment in order to promote the safety and welfare of boxers.[2]

The PBC has, among several others, the following powers and functions:

  1. to formulate, review and update the rules and procedures related to professional boxing;
  2. to establish rules and collect fees for the procurement of licenses;
  3. to establish linkages with international boxing organizations or institutions;
  4. to formulate and implement a health care program, alternative livelihood program, a system of life insurance, disability and death benefits and other benefits for all boxers;
  5. to facilitate a pension system for qualified professional boxers;
  6. to act as a quasi-judicial board when it shall deem necessary to hear and decide any investigation for any violation of its rules and regulations.[3]

Round 2: The GAB

During the reading of the bill in the Senate, Sen. Drilon took the podium to interpolate Sen. Pacquiao on his proposed bill. The crux of Sen. Drilon’s questioning stemmed from his concern of adding another commission, another layer of bureaucracy, to the already convoluted government structure; particularly when considering that the Games and Amusements Board (“GAB”) is already mandated to exercise authority over the sport of boxing.

The GAB was created as early as 1951.[4] It currently exercises regulatory authority over several sports including, among others, boxing, mixed martial arts, billiards, bowling, tennis, and table tennis. The GAB has powers relating to:

  1. implementation and enforcement of laws, rules and regulations governing the conduct of all professional sports and games and the activities of professional athletes, game officials and officiating sports personnel;
  2. issuance of licenses to professional sports practitioners;
  3. issuance of permits for the holding of professional sports contests and competitions and regulation over the actual conduct thereof;
  4. promulgation of rules, regulations, guidelines and policies to govern the conduct of professional sports and games and the activities and responsibilities of professional athletes;
  5. hearing and deciding any investigation for any violation of its rules and regulations concerning professional sports and games.[5]

Round 3: Almost down, but not out

According to Sen. Pacquiao, “[t]he difference [between the PBC and the GAB] is this review and update of the rules and procedures related to professional boxing and combat sports are not in the GAB. And also establish linkages with international boxing organizations and institutions and agencies of foreign government in order to facilitate and ensure the participation of Filipino professional boxers.”[6] (Jab!)

Obviously, as we’re all well aware of Sen. Pacquiao’s credentials, we could see where he’s coming from. He has a genuine concern for the welfare of professional boxers being one himself. And he truly believes that he can help them through the creation of the PBC which will have (as he envisions it) more focused regulation and assistance to favor professional boxers.

In response, the Bigman wants Pacman to justify why there is a need to create another governmental agency for an industry/sport that is already covered by an existing agency. From a bigger picture perspective, Sen. Drilon thinks that the PBC is an unnecessary body as the powers and functions of both the PBC and GAB (as several are enumerated above), overlap. (Jab!)

The Decision:

This issue is far from being settled. However, at this point it seems more reasonable to think that the most efficient and economical way to help out professional boxers is to make improvements within the GAB.

Being an administrative agency, the GAB has rule-making power or the power to execute the law. Stated otherwise, an administrative agency has the authority to “fill up the details” of an already existing law in order to give effect to it.[7] Clearly, the GAB already possesses the mandate that Sen. Pacquiao envisions the PBC to have under his proposed bill. So if you talk about a governmental body having the power to regulate the boxing industry, there’s no denying that one already exists. But how is this different from passing a law to create another commission? Well, the passage of a law is a legislative power, which is vested in  the congress.[8] While the exercise of rule-making power by administrative agencies on the other hand do not require the passage of law as the latter is a necessary requisite for the former.

To put it into context, the concerns Sen. Pacquiao seeks to address by creating the PBC can already be addressed by the GAB.

If you watch the interpolation, it appears that the Bigman won the battle. It would seem that the creation of the PBC may not really be the most effective and efficient way to help professional boxers. Nevertheless, Pacman has come back from defeat several times before. And we all know the rematch is coming. Until then, let’s keep the popcorn ready.

JD Garcia is an editor of Batas Sportiva. He has written two other posts on Senator Pacquiao (which you can read here and here) making him our resident expert on all things Manny.



[2] Sec. 5, Senate Bill 1306.

[3] Id, Sec. 10.

[4] Executive Order No. 392.



[7] Bernas, The 1987 Philippine Constitution, A Comprehensive Reviewer, 2007.

[8] Sec. 1, Art. VI, Philippine Constitution.


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