Boxer Manny Pacquiao joins Philippine presidential race

MANILA – Former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao made his way into the presidential race in the Philippines. Mr. Pacquiao, the most famo...


MANILA – Former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao made his way into the presidential race in the Philippines.

Mr. Pacquiao, the most famous athlete in the country, already holds a Senate seat, but faces strong opposition as a presidential candidate. He was previously chairman of PDP-Laban, the ruling party in the Philippines, before being ousted by a faction loyal to President Rodrigo Duterte, which the government accused Mr. Pacquiao of corruption.

“To government officials who continue to loot government coffers, you will soon find others in prison,” Pacquiao warned on Sunday when he announced his candidacy. “Your time is up.”

The constitution prohibits Mr Duterte from running for a second six-year term in the May elections. Instead he said he would be a candidate for the vice-presidency, in what some analysts have described as an attempt to avoid prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The ICC announced last week an investigation into the case of Mr. Duterte anti-drug campaign, which critics say has been marred by extrajudicial killings.

Christopher Lawrence Go, a senator and longtime aide to Mr Duterte, was considered one of the party’s favorites for the presidential nomination, but he has yet to announce his candidacy. The president and vice-president are elected separately in the Philippines. If the pair were to win, analysts said, Mr Go could step aside for Mr Duterte or let him run the country by proxy, allowing him to escape prosecution.

Sara Duterte, the daughter of the president and mayor of Davao City, said she would not run for president if her father continued with his plans to run for vice president.

All applicants must submit their final dossier in October.

Mr. Pacquiao, 42, reported a breakup with Mr. Duterte earlier this year when he accused the the government’s health department of corruption linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the purchase of face masks and other protective equipment. Senator, who as a boxer won world titles in a record eight weight classes, was once an ally of Mr. Duterte, but has recently become more critical of the president.

“We are ready to take up the leadership challenge,” Pacquiao said on Sunday as he accepted the nomination from his party faction.

“Now is the time for the oppressed to win,” he said. “Now is the time for the country to come out of poverty. “

Aries Arugay, professor of political science at the University of the Philippines, said he was not surprised by Mr Pacquiao’s announcement but that the boxer may be overwhelmed. While Mr. Pacquiao is internationally recognized, “he is not ready” to be president, Mr. Arugay said, adding that Mr. Pacquiao had not passed any major laws.

“His performance in the Senate was disappointing,” he said. “However, that hasn’t stopped people and politicians in the past from winning public office.”

Mr. Pacquiao was also a strong supporter of Mr. Duterte’s bloody drug campaign.

The Election Commission will have to settle the issue of the separate factions of the PDP-Laban before the final candidacies are submitted in October. If Mr. Duterte’s faction emerges with a clear mandate, Mr. Pacquiao will likely step down or run as an independent, reducing Mr. Duterte’s chances of regaining public office, Mr. Arugay said.

Melvin Matibag, general secretary of the PDP-Laban and leader of the pro-Duterte wing of the party, said Mr. Pacquiao was acting against the will of the party by announcing his candidacy.

Sunday’s meeting in which Mr. Pacquiao announced his candidacy was “not sanctioned or called by party chairman President Duterte,” Matibag told national radio on Monday.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Boxer Manny Pacquiao joins Philippine presidential race
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