MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday wished good luck for the upcoming boxing fight of Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, who it said was "best in the boxing ring, and probably not as good elsewhere" in the latest tirade between the senator and President Rodrigo Duterte's camp.
Duterte and Pacquiao had long been allies. But a surprise word war broke out between the pair last week, when the President threatened to expose the senator as a liar if he failed to back up his remark that the government was 3 times more corrupt than its predecessors.
Before leaving for the US on Saturday, Pacquiao bared to media details of alleged corruption that had come to his attention.
"Whether or not we wish him luck, of course. We wish all Filipinos the best of luck in whatever they do best," said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque
"And pagdating po kay (when it comes to) Manny Pacquiao, he’s best in the boxing ring and probably not as good elsewhere," he said in a press briefing.
Video courtesy of the Presidential Spokesperson
Pacquiao is in the United States to prepare for his welterweight bout against Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21.
The senator has been seen as among Duterte's possible successors when the latter's 6-year term expires next June.
But earlier in June, Duterte criticized Pacquiao's "shallow" foreign policy knowledge, after the senator said he found the leader's stand on the South China Sea as "lacking" and "disheartening."
Duterte remains popular in the Philippines. Political allies are urging him to run as vice president when his term ends. His daughter is also seen among his possible successors.
Pacquiao has chided some allies who had urged Duterte to run in next year's polls.
Duterte in 2016 won the presidency campaigning on a promise to fight corruption, crime, and illegal drugs.
But his administration has been dogged by scandals and allegations of graft and cover-ups in state agencies ranging from prisons, the state insurer, immigration, airports and customs, to police and the drugs enforcement agency, few of which led to convictions or high-profile resignations.
The Philippines also fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2019. Last year, the country slipped to more spots to 115th.
— With a report from Reuters