MANILA - Retired boxing star Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who is seeking the presidency next year, maintained Thursday that the Philippines can be friends with China without surrendering its sovereign rights.
When asked regarding his policy on China's incursion in the West Philippine Sea, Pacquiao said is it important to assert the Philippines' territorial rights.
"Kailangan nating protektahan ang ating bansa, ipaglaban ang rights... We must always look after the best interest of our people," said Pacquiao during during the weekly membership meeting of Rotary Club of Manila.
(We must protect our country and fight for our rights.)
But this does not mean the country has to take a combative stance, said the eight-division boxing champion.
"We don't need to fight against anybody. Hindi makipag-away sa kanila... Kailangan, we must be friends with them. Pero hindi ibig sabihin na papayag tayong apak-apakan ang bansa natin," he said.
(But that doesn't mean we allow them to belittle our country.)
"Alalahanin natin ang Pambansang Awit natin: Ang mamatay nang dahil sa'yo. Dapat willing lumaban para sa ating bansa."
(Let us remember this line in our National Anthem: To die for you. So, we should be willing to fight for our country.)
Pacquiao said he did this in the ring where he beat the bigger and more recognizable opponents.
"'Wag tayong papa-bully. Nakita n'yo naman sa boxing career ko, hindi tayo nagpapa-bully sa malalaking kalaban ko," he said.
(Let's not allow others to bully us. I did not allow my bigger opponents to bully me, as you've seen in my boxing career.)
Pacquiao, PROMDI Party’s standard bearer, added that the Philippines does not have to choose between the US and China.
"Sa interest of the people, hindi tayo kailangan pumili sa dalawa. Pwede nating maging kaibigan ang lahat ng bansa," he said.
(For our people's interest, we don't have to choose between the two. We can be friends with all nations.)
In May, Pacquiao said President Rodrigo Duterte's stance against Beijing regarding the West Philippine Sea weakened after the 2016 national elections, describing the chief executive's latest remarks on the issue as "lacking."
Duterte said Pacquiao should educate himself first before making comments on the Philippines' approach towards China.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao said he will take a stronger stance against corruption if he gets elected as president.
The Sarangani native said the country has been suffering economically because corrupt officials have been feasting on national coffers.
"Dapat ang non-tax revenue income, dapat pataasin natin. Dapat doon tayo nagre-rely, hindi puro taxes na pahirap sa mga tao. Sinasakal natin ang tao kung puro na lang taxes," said Pacquiao.
(We must focus on raising the non-tax revenue income. We should rely on those, and not on taxes that are making people's lives difficult. We are making it harder for the people if we keep on imposing taxes.)
"Lahat ng kawatan sa ating gobyerno, ginagamit nila ang pinag-aralan nila para magnakaw lang sa ating bayan."
(All crooks in government are using what they learned in school to rob our country.)