MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his wish for Manny Pacquiao to become the country’s next top leader.
Duterte attended the world boxing champ and senator’s 39th birthday celebration in General Santos City on Sunday, where he again said that he wanted Pacquiao to be his successor.
“Sabi ko sa kanya one time…kami lang dalawa nag-usap,‘Gusto kita gawing presidente…Alam mo kaya mo,’” the President said.
[I told him one time, while we were alone talking, ‘I want you to become president…I know that you can’.]
In November 2016, after Pacquio’s victory over American boxer Jesse Vargas, Duterte said his friend and political ally could be the country’s top leader someday.
“For president na ‘to ha,” Duterte said of Pacquiao as the President raised his hand during a courtesy call at the Palace.
Last year, Duterte also attended Pacquiao’s birthday bash in General Santos and said that, “I have to meet with ‘president-to-be’ Manny Pacquiao.”
In 2013, Pacquiao answered “Yes” when he was asked by Agence France-Presse (AFP) whether he had thought about shooting for the top job.
“When I started boxing, of course I was planning, you know and thinking about getting to become a champion. So when I enter politics it’s the same thing,” Pacquiao said during the AFP interview.
“But, you know, it’s far away…It’s God’s will,” he added.
On Sunday, while celebrating his birthday, Pacquiao said becoming the next chief executive was not yet in his mind as he wanted to focus first on being a senator and continue his boxing career.
“Wala pa sa isip ko ‘yan. Ang focus ko ngayon ay ang pagiging senador ko, ang responsibilidad ko sa Senate at boxing.”