Sen. Manny Pacquiao files a cyberlibel complaint against Pastor Apollo Quiboloy at the Makati City Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. (Photo Courtesy of Sen. Pacquiao's office)
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Philippines — Only weeks after announcing his retirement from professional boxing, Sen. Manny Pacquiao declared on Saturday that he was ready to fight in the political arena, whoever may be in the opposite corner.
"Everyone has the right to run for public office. Everyone has the right to be voted for," said the eight-time boxing champion at Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City. "At the end of the day, it will be the electorate who will choose who to put in a specific position."
"I already became a champion in many weight divisions in boxing. Now, I want to be a champion in public service," said Pacquiao, standard-bearer of the Probinsya Muna Development Initiative party founded by former Cebu Gov. Lito Osmeña, who died in July.
Pacquiao was in Cebu City to attend the wedding of the son of Cebu City Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa.
He and Vice President Leni Robredo, who is also seeking the presidency, were among the principal sponsors.
Pacquiao said he was ready to face anyone in the political arena and would not bother himself with the political plans and actions of other candidates.
'Toying with the people'
"All I ask is that people carefully choose who [should] lead the country because it seems there are people who are just toying with us, toying with the people," he said in Tagalog.
He stressed that, as far as he is concerned, there is no turning back on his bid for the presidency and he will vigorously pursue his desire to serve and fulfill his quest to get rid of corruption in all levels of governance.
He made the remark amid speculation that he made a deal with President Duterte when they met on Tuesday night, but the Pacquiao camp said the meeting was just a visit "between and among friends."
Mr. Duterte and Pacquiao had been exchanging bitter words since the senator criticized the Chief Executive for failing to fulfill the promises he made when he ran for president in 2016.
'Mega prison' for corrupt
Pacquiao began criticizing the Duterte administration after the President told Energy Secreatry Alfonso Cusi to take control of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan party, an issue that remains unresolved by the Commission on Elections.
While in Cebu, Pacquiao also met with the MP3 Movement, a coalition of volunteer leaders pushing for his presidency.
In his speech, Pacquiao reiterated his promise to launch an all-out war against corruption and promised to build a "mega prison" that would be solely intended for corrupt government officials.
He said that this facility would be equipped with closed-circuit television cameras that were fed directly to Malacañang as well as a hospital to house detainees who suddenly get sick when they are on trial.
Pacquiao said he would make sure there won't be a phone signal inside the mega prison.
His meeting with the MP3 Movement was followed by a forum with young Cebu businessmen where Pacquiao revealed his plan to provide zero-interest loans for micro, small and medium enterprises so they can immediately recover from their losses during the pandemic.
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