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Duterte calls out Pacquiao for comments on corruption

Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night dared Sen. Manny Pacquiao to name corrupt officials and agencies so he can do something about it.

Otherwise, Duterte — the chairman of the administration PDP-Laban party — said, he will campaign against Pacquiao, who is the party's acting president.

Members of PDP-Laban have been urging Duterte to run for vice president and to pick the presidential canddiate he will run alongside, an option that he said is "not at all a bad idea."

He said, however, that he cannot work with someone who opposes him.

"Kasi kung mag-vice president ako then kala — kalaban ko kontra partido kagaya ni Pacquiao, salita nang salita na three times daw tayo mas corrupt," the president said.

(Because if I run for vice president and then I go against someone who opposes the party like Pacquiao who keeps saying we are three times more corrupt...)  

"So I am challenging him, ituro mo ang opisina na corrupt at ako na ang bahala. Within one week may gawain ako (Name the office and I'll take care of it. Within one week, I'll do something)," the president said in a recording of a meeting of the pandemic task force.

"If you fail to do that, I will campaign against you because you are not doing your duty. Do it because if not, I will just tell the people: 'Do not vote for Pacquiao because he is a liar'," Duterte also said. 

It is unclear where Pacquiao supposedly made the comments, but he is quoted making general statements about corruption in a December 2020 podcast interview on Nas Daily. 

"I am not saying that all of them (are corrupt). If they are affected by my words, I think they're guilty of corruption," Pacquiao, who has been a vocal supporter of the Duterte administration, also said then.

The president on Monday night said that Pacquiao should have come to him to raise his concerns over corruption in government.

"Wala ka naman sinabi noong all these years, puro ka praises nang praises sa akin tapos ngayon sabihin mo corrupt," Duterte, who often reads out names of government officials removed from their posts for graft and corruption, said.

(You didn't say anything all these years, you're always full of praises for me and now you're bringing up corruption.)

Rift in PDP-Laban

Pacquiao is among the possible candidates for president in the 2022 elections and the Palace has said that Duterte may yet back him. Speaking at a forum earlier this month, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that Duterte is also considering supporting Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. or Manila Mayor Isko Moreno for president.

Duterte earlier this month told Pacquiao to study the West Philippine Sea issue more before making comments on the government's policy on the presence of Chinese vessels there. He said that the senator "has a very shallow knowledge" of the issue.

Pacquiao said that he respects Duterte's opinion but that his comments on the West Philippine Sea "[reflect] the sentiment of majority of the Filipinos, that we should stand strong in protecting our sovereign rights while pursuing a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the dispute."

Duterte's comments on Monday night indicate rising tension within the administration party, whose members held a national assembly despite protests from Pacquiao, who said that meetings need the endorsement of the party's president and chairman. 

The Palace said that the decision to hold the PDP-Laban assembly came from Duterte, who recorded a video message for party-mates who attended.

RELATED: PDP-Laban rift continues: Pacquiao hits Cusi over Luzon blackouts

This is not the first time for rifts to emerge within PDP-Laban, a minority party whose ranks grew after the 2016 elections. In 2014, then Vice President Jejomar Binay announced he was leaving PDP-Laban because of differences with party leaders. He would later run for president under the United Nationalist Alliance. 

According to political analysts like Ateneo Policy Center senior research fellow Michael Yusingco, political parties in the Philippines are often made up of temporary alliances to consolidate power. Because of the weak political party system, "they break up into factions easily when politicians don't get what they want." — Jonathan de Santos

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