GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 06 July) – Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao will run for president in 2022 with or without the support of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), a close ally of the lawmaker and boxing icon said over the weekend.
Lawyer Franklin Gacal, a longtime friend and former counsel of Pacquiao, said the lawmaker had told him that he is “definitely running for president” in 2022.
He said Pacquiao made the remark before leaving for Los Angeles to train for his fight against Errol Spence Jr. come August.
Gacal, however, firmly believed that the senator will be “ousted” as president of PDP-Laban during the party’s national council meeting on July 17.
Once that happens it will be unwise for the senator to remain with the party, Gacal said, adding he, too, might do the same thing.
Gacal, a city councilor here, has started forming an online movement to support Pacquiao’s bid for the presidency.
Before leaving for the United States, Pacquiao insisted during a press conference that he is the legitimate president and “not only acting president of the party” as he was referred to by some.
Lawyer Rogelio Garcia, a PDP-Laban member said in a radio interview here that Pacquiao’s position in the party has already been declared vacant.
“It will just be a matter of formality come July 17,” Garcia said.
Gacal, on the other hand, said Pacquiao remained optimistic that things will turn out for the best and that he will still be the head of the party upon his return.
He said Pacquiao’s optimism hinges on his alliance with the group of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, whose father, the late Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., founded the party.
But Garcia said the party does not and will not support Pacquiao’s “ambition” to be the PDP-Laban presidential standard bearer next year.
“Many of our party mates do not even consider him one of us,” he said.
Garcia also took a swipe at Pacquiao’s frequent absences in the Senate, pointing out that since Pacquiao accepted the challenge to be an anti-corruption crusader, he must devote time to it and not leave the country.
He must know that negligence and failure to deliver as a paid public servant are part of corruption, he said.
Gacal, who once challenged to a 15-round boxing bout a sports writer critical of Pacquiao, said they are doing this “because they consider Manny as the real threat in their desire to stay in power.”
He said these are the people feeding the President false information.
He said what they are doing now to his friend is like what they did to Villar and Binay in the previous presidential elections.
The two were frontrunners in poll surveys prior to the elections “but eventually lost glitter due to attacks in the media,” he said.
What is clear, Gacal said, is that “Senator Manny is now becoming the voice of the opposition.”
He however debunked speculations about the senator joining opposition parties like 1Sambayan, saying “It is too remote.”
With so many political parties in the Philippines, “I don’t think no one will embrace Manny to be with them. Any wild guesses? Maybe Liberal?” he said.
“But, I still think Manny would want to remain with PDP,” he quipped. (Rommel G. Rebollido/MindaNews)