President Rodrigo Duterte once again said that he wishes for Senator Manny Pacquaio to become president of the country because he can.
Duterte made the remarks when he attended Pacquiao’s 39th birthday bash in General Santos City on December 17 after praising the boxing champ-turned-senator for being an inspiration.
“I am dedicating this message to Manny. You know why? Sabi ko sa kanya, at one time, kami lang dalawa nag-uusap: ‘Yung style mo na ‘yan gusto kita gawing presidente. Alam mo kaya mo,’” Duterte said.
“You have brought so much pride and joy to our country for being a world champion in the field of boxing. The determination you have shown and the humility you embody in the midst of glorious triumphs are worthy of emulation by our countrymen,” he added.
The President also praised Pacquiao’s leadership skills.
“As a senator, you have demonstrated the qualities of a true leader-someone who believes that in order to make the Philippines a better country, we have to keep our people on top of our priorities. I am glad that you are with me in this mission,” sabi ni Duterte.
Duterte said that he wants to put an end to corruption as his “gift” to Pacquaio.
“So birthday niya, let us honor — or at least the entire Philippines is listening now — ang gift ko sa kanya is jointly with his personal hatred for corruption,” he said.
“I join him with the same intensity of hate. And ‘yan ang birthday gift ko para sa kanya, yayariin ko kayong lahat,” he added.
Some of the party’s guests reacted to the President’s remarks about Pacquiao.
The senator’s mother, Dionisia Pacquiao, said that he is proud of her son’s achievements, but said that he would leave it to God to determine his political career.
“Susuportahan ko siya, bahala na ang Diyos kung saan siya dadalhin sa mundo ng pulitika,” Dionisia said.
This is not the first time Duterte said he wanted Pacquiao to be president.
In November 2016, the President raised the senator’s hand during the latter’s courtesy call at the Palace after winning over American boxer Jesse Vargas.
“For president na ‘to ha,” Duterte said.
In December 2016, during Pacquiao’s 38th birthday bash, Duterte called the senator “president-to-be.”
“I ask permission from president-to-be Manny Pacquiao. Ako nagbitiw na ako ng salita… klaro na iyan,” the President said.
“Look, ito ha. Man, politiko ka, Man. Magiging presidente ka rin. Tingin ko eh, totoo,” he added. “Sundan mo lang linya mo, at ganun lang ang ugali mo.. yang style mo, stay humble, mababa ka lang.”
Asked by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on whether he is considering running for the presideny, Senator Pacquiao said, “When I started boxing, of course I was planning, you know and thinking about getting to become a champion. So when I enter politics it’s the same thing.”
“But, you know, it’s far away…It’s God’s will,” he added.
On his birthday, Pacquiao said that he intends to focus on his senatorial duties and his boxing career for now.
“Wala pa sa isip ko ‘yan. Ang focus ko ngayon ay ang pagiging senador ko, ang responsibilidad ko sa Senate at boxing,” he said.
Some Twitter users said that if Pacquiao becomes the next leader of the Philippines, they would move to another country.
“Dad: *reads news about Duterte wanting Pacquiao to become next president* MAG ABROAD NA ISA SA INYO. IF WORSE COMES TO WORST ATLEAST ONE OF YOU IS SAFE,” one tweeted.
Others expressed their disagreement with Duterte’s remarks.
Duterte recently said that he favors same-sex marriage, but why would he say he wants Pacquaio, who opposes the idea, to be the next president, some wondered.
“Ahm you can’t support LGBT rights and, at the same time, endorse an anti-LGBT legislator for President??? Bakit ang bilis ng flip ng switch???” @YourLawyerSays tweeted.
Duterte said on December 17 at the 7th LGBT yearend gathering at Azuela Cove, Lanang in Davao City that he is for gay marriage so the law should be changed and that he is planning on creating a commission for the LGBT community.
But Pacquiao said in February last year described couples in same-sex relationships as worse than animals, – “Mas masahol pa sa hayop.”