By Ellson Quismorio
Senator and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao is well-qualified to run for a higher position.
“We all know very well that Senator Pacquiao is capable for running in another or a higher position. He is well-qualified naman,” said his party-mate, Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
Pimentel, a Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives, said President Duterte alluded to Pacquiao’s political plans when they were together Monday evening at the joint birthday celebration of Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and his wife Wen Velasco in San Juan City.
“[President Duterte] mentioned in passing, ‘oh si Senator Pacquiao, may plano’ …Hindi tinuloy kung ano yung plano (Senator Pacquiao has a plan’…He didn’t finish what he was saying),” he added.
Pacquiao, 40, boxing’s only eight-division champion, has long been rumored to be targeting the Palace seat and could run for it once his fighting career is finally over.
Pimentel, Pacquiao, and Velasco are all members of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Duterte chairs the party.
“Nakita naman po natin na maganda naman ang takbo sa posisyon niya bilang senador (We’ve seen that his tenure as senator has gone well) and I can’t see any reason why he can’t aspire for a higher position,” Pimentel said of his fellow Mindanaoan.
Asked if he felt Duterte was encouraging Pacquiao to run for a higher post, Pimentel said: “No, he just mentioned it.”
The Deputy Speaker also said that during the birthday party, President Duterte once again expressed his wish for his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, to stay away from the presidency.
“He mentioned that, sinabi niya ayaw niyang patakbuhin (he said he doesn’t want her to run). It was very clear. Ayaw niyang patakbuhin si Mayor Sara kasi sabi niya, the position of President ay mahirap (He doesn’t want Mayor Sara to run because he said, the position of President is difficult).
“Naaawa siya kay Mayor Sara na patakbuhin kasi ayaw niya mangyari yung mga nangyayari sa kanya…So ayaw niyang mangyari na dumaan din sa ganung position si Mayor Sara (He doesn’t want that what’s happening to him to happen to her…he doesn’t want Mayor Sara to go through that),” Pimentel said.
Congressman Velasco is a close friend of Mayor Sara.