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MANILA, Philippines, February 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is the target of a Western newsmedia blitz misquoting him as having said that homosexuals were “worse than animals.”

In his homeland Philippines, Pacquiao is a hugely popular sports figure for winning world boxing titles in eight weight classifications, climaxing with the welterweight championship in 2014. In training for a comeback match in the U.S. in May after losing his title last year, a member of the Philippines House of Representative now campaigning for a Senate seat, and born-again Christian, he is now facing “a storm” of criticism, according to British and American news media, for comments on same-sex “marriage.”

“It’s common sense,” the boxer replied to a reporter’s query. “Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve male on male, female on female then man is worse than animals.”

Though the remark could easily be taken to mean that “man,” as in Filipino society, would be “worse than animals” if it were to approve same-sex “marriage,” Pacquiao has been quoted in headlines by the British Guardian, the BBC, and by ABC, Vox, the Las Vegas Sun in the U.S. as calling homosexuals “worse than animals.”

The reaction, termed in the newsmedia as a “storm” and a “fury,” amounts to a handful of commentators and political rivals. Fellow member of the House of Representatives Neri Colmenares, for example, said, “That statement was below the belt,” and would hinder his efforts to get an anti-discrimination bill through Congress. The national advocate for Filipino workers overseas, Susan Ople, said Pacquiao “needs enlightenment and guidance.”

Meanwhile, Vice Ganda, described as “the country’s most popular gay comedian” in one report, posted #PrayForMannyPacquiao to his followers on Twitter, adding, “Some people think they can judge people like God just because they’ve attended a prayer meeting and read the Bible. The Senate needs experts on politics and law, not blind prophets.”

Pacquiao himself, a onetime Catholic but now an Evangelical Protestant,  responded in equally religious terms with a muted video apology, but not a retraction. “I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt. I still stand on my belief that I'm against same-sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I'm not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I'm praying for you.”  

Support came today from a political ally, Vice President Jejomar Binay.  He attributed the boxer’s comments to his religious beliefs, noting he was “known to be very God-fearing.” As for Binay’s own position on so-called same-sex “marriage,” Binay said, “I take the position of the Catholic Church.”

Just back from eight months in the Philippines, well-known Canadian opponent of the homosexual agenda Bill Whatcott told LifeSiteNews that Pacquiao’s opinion on homosexual unions “would carry more weight there than those of Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama combined in the U.S., on the same subject. Half the Philippines would oppose same-sex marriage on his word alone.”

Whatcott said Filipinos were a tolerant people but no supporters of homosexuality. “I could literally count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I met who were for homosexuality.” Whatcott thought that any push for homosexual rights was coming from American and European NGOs, not Filipinos.