Boxing champ and Sen. Manny Pacquiao and President Rodrigo Duterte used to be allies.
Despite his being a born-again Christian, Pacquiao did not condemn the extra-judicial killings that became a daily occurrence as Duterte waged his war on drugs. He supported Duterte’s initiative to re-impose death penalty. He voted for the abhorrent anti-terror law.
He was silent when former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV exposed Duterte’s bank deposits in hundreds of millions of pesos in 2016 which remain unexplained up to now.
Now, he talks about corruption in the Duterte government.
Duterte was in the audience at the Axiata Arena in Malaysia when Pacquiao won over Argentine Lucas Matthysse in July 2018 and called him an inspiration to “Filipinos not only in boxing but also in the public service.” Never mind that Pacquiao is known for his absenteeism in the Senate.
Now, Duterte is talking about Pacquiao’s absenteeism. A few days ago, during the inauguration of the Light Rail Transit extension, Duterte said: “Eh kung mag-report ka lang, dalawa, isang buwan, then I would say that you are a s***. A s*** is a s***. Magtrabaho ka, hiningi mo ‘yan, nandiyan ‘yong mga papel.
(When you report [to work] twice in a month, then I would say you are a s***. A s*** is a s***. You work. You asked for it. The papers are there.)
“Start investigating. Do not go elsewhere. Comply first with your duty as a senator. Tapusin mo ‘yan, nandiyan ‘yong mga papeles. Huwag kang pa-absent-absent. (Finish that first, the papers are there. Don’t be absent.)
The change of tune, no doubt, is related to the 2022 elections.
Duterte’s term ends on June 30, 2022. But it’s obvious he wants to stay in power beyond the constitutional limit to protect himself and other officials who have helped him execute his controversial policies and programs like bloody war on drugs.
The Constitution does not allow a re-election for the president. His allies’ attempts to change the Constitution miserably failed.
He floated the utterly ridiculous idea of him running for vice president to his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, or his aide-turned-senator, Christopher “Bong” Go, which he later admitted to be just an anti-lame duck scheme.
The promotion of the 43-year-old Duterte-Carpio to succeed the 76-year-old Duterte seems to be working because she is leading the surveys on possible presidential candidates for 2022.
Of the names in the top five of the February 2021 Pulse Asia survey (Duterte-Carpio, Bongbong Marcos, Grace Poe, Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao), it’s Pacquiao who is expected to compete with Duterte-Carpio for the Mindanao votes and more importantly of the vote-rich masa.
Thus, he has to be eliminated from the competition. It started with attempts to oust him as acting president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Last Thursday, Duterte erroneously announced that the 42-year-old Pacquiao backed out of his fight with 31-year-old Errol Spence Jr. in Las Vegas scheduled on August 21. There is no official announcement of Pacquaio withdrawing from the fight although he is facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit from Paradigm Sports Management which sought injunction against the Pacquiao -Spence bout.
The boxer-senator needs to win this fight, not only for the money but also to boost his presidential ambition. Duterte is just one of those who want to see him fail.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.