Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday reiterated that he will not bow out of the 2022 presidential race.
The PROMDI Party's standard bearer declared this upon confirmation that President Rodrigo Duterte earlier met with former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on March 20, coupled by the news about Partido Reporma's abandonment of Senator Panfilo Lacson in favor of Vice President Leni Robredo.
Pacquiao believes Duterte only met with Marcos Jr., in consideration to his daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“Alam ko naman yung nasa isip ni Presidente (Duterte), alam ko yung nasa puso nya. So as a Mindanaoan, nagkakaintidihan kami. Andun yung anak nya eh sa kabila, ka-tandem nung kabila," Pacquiao told ABS-CBN News.
"Wala namang masama kung nag-uusap sila," he added.
In November, Duterte openly belittled Marcos Jr.'s capacity to be the next leader of the country, to the point of telling voters not to vote for him for having "baggage" and being a "weak" leader.
"Hindi ako bilib. He is a weak leader. Totoo yan, 'di ako naninira ng tao. Talangang weak kasi spoiled child, only son... Pero sabihin mong may crisis, he is a weak leader. At saka may bagahe siya. Iyan ‘yang sinasabi ko sa inyo, totoo ‘yan. I’m not. hindi ako nag…I do not foist lies. Masisira ka. Pero bantay ka diyan, magkamali ang Pilipinas," Duterte said.
For Pacquiao, Duterte's recent meeting with Marcos Jr. should not absolve the latter and his family from their P203-billion estate tax obligation to the government.
“Kung sinisingil ng gobyerno 'yun dapat bayaran nila. May mga conviction ang Supreme Court na convicted sila, tapos hindi naman ini-implement. So para bang ang batas natin para lang sa mahirap, hindi sa mayayaman," Pacquiao said.
The outgoing senator meantime expressed his support to the Commission on Elections which is now investigating Smartmatic on a reported data breach.
Pacquiao believes this year's polls will be fair.
“Sa akin sa Panginoon ko na ipinauubaya lahat. Kasi ang lahat naman ng kasamaan mabubulgar din naman yan. basta magtiwala lang tayo sa kakayahan ng mga Comelec, mga in-appoint dyan. I’m sure capable naman iyan," Pacquiao said.