Philippine boxing world champion and congressman Manny Pacquiao announced on 5 October he will take up a new challenge by running for a Senate seat in national elections next year. Pacquiao, whose popularity transcends economic classes and makes him one of the most recognisable people in the Philippines, said he was looking at one of the 12 Senate seats up for grabs in May.

"Formally, I announce my candidacy for senator," he said during an address in his home province of Saranggani in the southern Philippines, which he represents in Congress.

"My reason is because I want to impart and give people the help that they should receive," Pacquiao told his constituents.

Pacquiao, 36, did not say what party or coalition he would join for his Senate bid. Politics in the Philippines is a multi-party system that has long been dominated by powerful clans, as well as film celebrities and sports stars.

Boxing matches featuring Pacquiao, who is also an army reservist with the rank of lieutenant colonel, have often brought the country to a standstill. Maoist rebels and Islamist extremists fighting government forces in the south have even paused to watch telecasts of his fights.

Pacquiao lost the richest prize fight in boxing history to American Floyd Mayweather last May. The fight catapulted both boxers into the Forbes' list of the world's 100 highest-paid celebrities.

As a second-term congressman, Pacquiao authored 15 bills and co-authored 27 others, mostly promoting social welfare and sports-related causes. However, the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper reported early this year that Pacquiao attended only four sessions of Congress in 2014, the fewest of any congressman.