MANILA - Sen. Manny Pacquiao is the "president that we need" and should declare his intent to run for the presidency in the coming months, party-mate Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said Thursday.
Pimentel, executive vice-chairman and former president of PDP-Laban, said the boxer-turned-lawmaker seems to have "been preparing for this possibility" so he should declare soon.
"He has many ideas and he has been explaining his ideas, his programs of government, his platform and there are many people from different sectors of our society and different socioeconomic classes who have pledged support to him," he told ANC's Headstart.
"This is what we need, this is the leader that we need, the president that we need," he said, enumerating the criteria as someone who "has a plan for the country, who has the right heart" and who has "widespread enough support from the people of the Philippines."
"If he will listen to me, I will tell him na if you want to run for president, declare na in August or September. Hindi pwedeng i-delay masyado 'yan," said Pimentel.
Pacquiao is currently the president of PDP-Laban after Pimentel stepped down last year. However, at least one party official underscored that he and the other officers are only in a holdover capacity. The party will hold an assembly next month, where an election is expected to happen.
Pimentel said Pacquiao's "greatest asset" is that he rose from poverty, has "seen the different levels of economic situations in the lives of human beings," and so he would know the plight of the people experiencing this too.
"Alam niya, so yung puso, nasa tamang lugar kasi gusto niya ngang i-solve yung problemang yun. (He knows, that's why his heart, it's in the right place because he wants to solve that problem.)"
"I think he will be a good choice of the party to push for president, pero (but) of course, running should be voluntary and the person should be willing to run for that position," he said.
Asked about the possibility of President Rodrigo Duterte, the party's chairman, not choosing Pacquiao to be PDP-Laban's standardbearer in the 2022 elections, Pimentel underscored that there is a process and it's "not one person choosing" for the whole party.
He added, if a member would be dissatisfied with the party's nominee, "we can part as friends."
"That’s why we have a multiparty system, you can join the other parties and support their candidates. Hindi dapat masama ang loob namin dun kasi meron kaming kandidato (We should not feel bad about it because we have our own candidate)," he said.
Leaders from the PDP-Laban earlier urged Duterte to seek the vice-presidency in next year's election and pick his running-mate.
In a speech in Malacañang on Wednesday, Duterte said he thinks running for vice president is "a good idea," but he will support House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez should he make a go for it. Romualdez is from the Lakas-CMD Party.