Senator Manny Pacquiao on Thursday said he would welcome President Rodrigo Duterte’s support for his presidential bid if the Chief Executive and senatorial aspirant would endorse him as his successor.
Malacañang previously said Duterte is looking for a presidential candidate who will truly serve the public.
“‘Di naman kami naguusap. Ang sa atin is unity naman tayo. Magsama-sama, tatanggapin naman natin ang mga tao na naniniwala sa atin, naniniwala at sasama sa atin,” Pacquiao said in an interview in Quezon City.
[We are not in communication, but what we aim is unity. Work together and we will welcome anyone who believes in us and those who are willing to join us.]
Asked if he would be okay with Duterte’s endorsement of his bid, Pacquiao said: “Okay naman. Ang sabi ko nga tinatanggap natin lahat ng suporta.”
[I'm okay with it. Like what I have said, we will welcome all the support.]
But Pacquiao said he wouldn't ask Duterte for his endorsement.
“Kaya hindi natin siya mapipiplit kung anong desisyon n’ya, kung anong desisyon ng presdente sa kanya ‘yon," Pacquiao said.
"Ang kailangan lang natin ‘yung mga sumusuporta sa akin naniniwala sa akin, susuportahan ang programa ko ang gusto kong gawin sa bayan,” he added.
(But we can't force him. Whatever his decision may be, that's up to him. What we need is people who supports me, believes in me, and people that will support my programs for the country.)
Duterte initially supported Senator Bong Go's presidential bid. However, Go announced that he would withdraw from the presidential race.
On several occasions in 2016, Duterte had joked about Pacquiao running for president.
He even called the boxer-turned-politician as “president-to-be.”
In 2017, the president vouched for Pacquiao, saying the lawmaker was capable of becoming president.
However, their relationship turned sour after the lawmaker claimed that corruption had worsened under the Duterte administration.
In November, Duterte and Pacquiao met at Malacañang Palace, with Go calling it a "renewal of friendship" between the two.
Pacquiao said he would welcome anybody who would “apply” to be part of his senatorial slate when asked if he would include in his lineup Duterte, who would run for a seat in the Senate. -NB, GMA News