May 6, 2009

Report: Pacquiao told to stay in U.S.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao has been told not to return to the Philippines because of a swine flu epidemic in the U.S. and Mexico, the Philippine Daily Inquirer said.

Pacquiao recorded a second-round technical knockout of Ricky Hatton during a 140-pound title bout in Las Vegas Saturday and was to be honored upon his scheduled return to Manila on Friday.

He went to Los Angeles with his wife, mother and others in his entourage to celebrate his victory, but Wednesday, he was urged by Philippines Health Secretary Francisco Duque III not to return upon a suggestion by the World Health Organization.

The newspaper said the decision sparked a battle inside President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Cabinet between Duque and Environment Secretary Lito Atienza.

It is better to be conservative, Duque said.

Atienza called Duque's suggestion nothing but unjustified anxiety and a cruel joke.