Pacquiao shoots for Duterte's good side with basketball game

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao in Davao City to meet with incoming president Rodrigo Duterte. Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

DAVAO CITY -- Boxing icon and senator-elect Manny Pacquiao played basketball with incoming president Rodrigo Duterte's close aides here Saturday, hoping to start a friendly relationship with the man he opposed in the last election.

Pacquiao won a six-year term as senator under outgoing Vice President Jejomar Binay's ticket, joining him in campaign rallies. But he said he was now supporting Duterte for the good of the nation.

"Ang sinasabi ko, bakit iniiisip natin ang mga partido partido, ang importante isipin natin ang para sa pagbabago," he told reporters.

Pacquiao, who has also dabbled in a lackluster professional basketball career, played hoops with Duterte's executive assistant, Christopher Go and defeated vice presidential candidate Alan Peter Cayetano.

The former champion in an unprecedented eight weight divisions dismissed observations he was a political turncoat.

Since his convincing win in the May 9 elections, dozens of lawmakers have switched to Duterte's PDP Laban Party giving him a clear shot at a majority in Congress to pursue his agenda.

"Eh 'di sana lumipat na ako noon? Pinakita ko sa kanila ang pagiging firm ko sa decision, na kapag may desisyon ka panindigan mo," Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao, an outgoing congressman in his wife's home province of Saragani, said he would try to cure his record of chronic absenteeism once he is sworn into the Senate next month.

He said he decided to forego the Rio Olympics to focus on legislative work.

"Kung makaya natin ma-perfect (ang attendance) bakit hindi?" Pacquiao told reporters.

"Nakakahiya sa taumbayan na naglagay sa akin sa posisyon tapos unang buwan ng serbisyo ko wala ako," he said.