Manny Pacquiao has become embroiled in a bizarre lawsuit amid claims that his foundation failed to pay shipping charges on a consignment that was seized by customs authorities in his native Philippines.
The Manny Pacquiao Foundation, which the pound-for-pound boxing king uses to support his favorite charities, tried to import a shipment of "relief goods" from the United States to the Philippines using an unnamed logistics company in 2009. According to TMZ, when customs officials found the containers to be holding used clothes – which do not qualify as "relief goods" under Filipino law and are subject to excise duties – the shipment was impounded.
As a result of the load not being delivered to its destination, it is claimed, the foundation refused to pay its bill with the shipper. However, all major logistics companies, such as FedEx and UPS, include a clause in every contract that insists on full payment, even if a package is not delivered due to customs irregularities.
The foundation is being sued for the full shipping charge of $35,806.36, plus interest, while the containers continue to sit undistributed in a Filipino port.
The lawsuit is the latest is a series of high-profile controversies surrounding Pacquiao, whose reputation in his homeland has taken a considerable hit in recent years. His role as a congressman in the Philippines has brought extra attention that often has resulted in negative headlines.
Pacquiao drew criticism over his attendance record in congress and was forced to respond to a contempt claim brought by Filipino tax authorities. He also resorted to legal action following allegations he had housed a fugitive former politician at his home.
Even the actions of his father, Rosalio, have earned attention. A vehicle owned by and carrying Pacquiao's father struck a mini-tricycle driver last week, and the matter was widely reported in the Filipino press.
Pacquiao's foundation could come under further scrutiny after journalist Edwin Espejo claimed the operation was beset with corruption. In a column in the Minda News publication, Espejo suggested the unpaid shipping bill could be traced to unscrupulous members of the foundation.
"My understanding is that some enterprising people used the name of the foundation and tried to bring in valuable 'used clothing' [without] the knowledge and consent of Pacquiao," Espejo wrote. "Time and again I have always said some people around the boxing champion will always find ways to earn fast money at the expense of Pacquiao.
"We used to share the same building with his foundation when I was still with the Sun Star General Santos [newspaper]. The foundation, then, was largely skeletal. The office almost closed all the time except when Manny drops by, which is far in between. That was sometime in 2003 or a year thereafter."
Pacquiao's camp and the Manny Pacquiao Foundation could not be reached for comment. However, swift changes to the structure of his foundation were implemented this week. Pacquiao's trusted promoter, Bob Arum, and Las Vegas hotel and casino magnate Steve Wynn were among several new appointments to the board of trustees in a move that should serve to offset some of the damaging publicity brought by the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, said that Pacquiao will be fully focused by the time his June 9 bout with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas rolls around.
"Manny is used to distractions and stuff like that," Ariza said.
Pacquiao's last fight in November ended in a highly disputed majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez that many believed the Mexican won. Since then, Pacquiao says he has cleaned up his lifestyle, cutting out late nights and his former hobby of gambling on cockfighting, and instead devoting himself to biblical studies.
"With his newfound faith and the way he's approached religion, he has left a lot of the other stuff behind," Ariza said. "I always think that's a good thing. Hopefully that will give him more time with me, and we can get back to working on some of the old workouts we used to do."
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