Duterte keeps hitting Pacquiao
President Duterte on Thursday continued to jab at his ally and party mate Sen. Manny Pacquiao, telling him to buckle down to work and investigate the government corruption he had been claiming.
He also said he did not want to be treated as a lame duck, which was why he was taking his time deciding whether or not he would run for vice president in 2022.
Mr. Duterte said he would tell those mentioned by Pacquiao in corruption claims to cooperate with any probe, even as he parried the senator’s citing of questionable transactions in the Department of Health by saying that the pandemic funds were with the country’s creditors and not in government hands.
“I expect him to sit in Congress,” Mr. Duterte said at the inauguration of the Light Rail Transit 2 extension. “Do not go anywhere, finish and find out the corruption that you are talking about. If you just report [to work] one or two months, then I would say that you are a shit. A shit is a shit.”
“Go to work. You asked for that, the documents are there, start investigating. Do not go elsewhere. Comply first with your duty as a senator. Finish that, the papers are there. Do not be an absentee,” he added.
On the sidelines of the 245th US Independence Day celebration at the US Embassy, Pacquiao said his claims of government corruption should not be seen as an attack on Mr. Duterte.
“I just want to make it clear: I’m not attacking the President. I only wanted to help in his campaign to curb corruption,” the senator told reporters.
Mr. Duterte wondered why Pacquiao, who is rumored to be aspiring for the presidency, was speaking about corruption only now.
He said it seemed Pacquiao could not wait for the announcement that his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), would support him.
“We held our horses because [Sen. Aquilino] Pimentel is there, him, and others. But suddenly he could not … wait for the announcement that PDP will go for him, so he went berserk, saying there is corruption here, corruption there,” the President said.
He said it was Pacquiao’s burden to identify the government agencies supposedly involved in corruption.
“He’s blabbering his mouth … I am waiting for his word for the next department that he would choose to investigate,” he said.
The President also said Pacquiao’s prowess in the ring did not guarantee political acumen: “You know, when you are a champion in boxing, it does not mean to say that you are a champion in politics.”
According to Mr. Duterte, Pacquiao backed out of his next fight because a loss in the ring would have bad implications on his political career: “You know, he has a scheduled fight but suddenly he backed out. Probably he knows that he’s too old for that. And failing in his boxing career, if he loses, he’s a goner actually.”
Pacquiao is to fight Errol Spence Jr. in August in Las Vegas. He has been sued by Paradigm Sports Management for alleged breach of contract, and it is seeking to stop his fight with Spence.
Earlier on Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Pacquiao’s claims of government corruption were part of politicking in relation to his political plans.
Roque said he did not think it was right for Pacquiao to make this move against Mr. Duterte.
“For me, that is not the right strategy because Senator Pacquiao and the President have been together for so long, and as of now, the President has not named who he would endorse for the presidency in the next elections,” Roque said.
Pacquiao was on Mr. Duterte’s list of possible successors, he said.
Mr. Duterte said his seeming ambivalence about running for vice president next year was “just, to a politician, for leverage.”
“You know what a lame duck is, so you would not want to be treated like shit. So [while] you are here, you try to … It’s just for political posturing so they would not treat you badly because I am already leaving [office],” he said.
Count him as VP candidate
For now, he said, the public should consider him a vice presidential candidate, “to maintain equilibrium in all things.”
Discussing possibilities, he added: “If I win and I’m not allied with the president, all I have to do is to join the military and the police in the fight against crime, drugs and criminality and all, and also maybe go around Asean countries for more cohesive relations between them.”
The President recalled his promise that he would back House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez if the latter would seek the vice presidency.
“So if Romualdez would hang on to that commitment … As I said if there is space for me [I will run]. If there is none ..,” he said, alluding to a statement he made during his “Talk to the People on COVID-19” address.
Evidence of corruption
At the US Embassy, Pacquiao said he had been “receiving documents and evidence of corruption” in various agencies.
“They were asking for my help. Hindi ko na matiis (I could no longer endure it),” he said, adding that it would be a good opportunity to work with the President.
He said he would submit all the evidence he had to Mr Duterte.
Asked why he chose to voice his concerns instead of directly talking with the President, Pacquiao said he had long been seeking a meeting.
“I think it’s more than six months that I’ve been asking for an appointment or an audience with him, but I did not get the chance. I also understand that maybe he’s too busy,” said the senator.
Pacquiao said he made no mention of the issue to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who was also a guest at the US Embassy event.
He said they merely had a photo op.
So is he running for president in 2022? Said Pacquiao: “I’m not saying no, but I’m not declaring anything now. I will declare at the right time what position I am running for. For now I want to focus on my upcoming fight.” INQ
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