A TOP confidant of ruling party Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) president, Senator Manny Pacquiao, said the senator already saw it coming and is getting ready for his possible ouster as party president.
Franklin Gacal said that in the event Sen. Pacquiao indeed gets ejected, he hinted that there will be no change of plans for the senator, who would still pursue his Palace bid — with or without the party’s support.
The senator is in the US right now, according to Gacal, and is in the thick of his training for his fight with Errol Spence in August. He said the senator has prepared well for his presidential run and is bent on putting up a good fight against the likes of presidential daughter Sara Duterte and fellow Senator Bong Go.
“Definitely Pacquiao will run for president in the coming 2022 election. He told me this before leaving for Los Angeles,” Gacal said.
He added that the legislator from General Santos City is aware and convinced that he will be ousted as president of the PDP-Laban in the party’s national council meeting on July 17.
“Once it happens, it will be unwise for the senator to remain with the party,” he averred.
In fact, Gacal hinted at the preparations that they are doing to boost Pacquiao’s Palace bid for next year’s general elections.
“Before leaving for the United States, Pacquiao insisted that he is the legitimate president and not only acting president of the party as he was referred to by some,” he said.
As this developed, PDP-Laban national coordinator lawyer Rogelio “Bic-Bic” Garcia sees the coming July 17 PDP-Laban national council meeting as “just a formality and Pacquiao’s position in the party has already been declared vacant.”
“Many of our partymates do not even consider Pacquiao as one of us,” Garcia explained.
He also took a swipe at Pacquiao’s frequent absences in the Senate. Garcia said that the former world boxing champion has failed to devote time and even left the country even after accepting the challenge to be an anti-corruption crusader.
“Senator Pacquiao must know that negligence and failure to deliver as a paid public servant are part of corruption,” Garcia said.
But for Gacal, Pacquiao’s imminent ouster as PDP-Laban president would further boost the latter’s winning chances, adding that the support he has been getting from party stalwart Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III will play a crucial role on Pacman’s journey to Malacañang.
“Pacquiao is considered as the real threat to the PDP-Laban and there are people behind the party feeding false information to President Duterte,” Gacal pointed out.
“Senator Pacquiao is clearly now the voice of the opposition against Duterte’s administration and with so many political parties in the Philippines, I don’t think no one will embrace Pacquiao to be with them,” Gacal added.
The rift between President Rodrigo Duterte and Pacquiao was again apparent when the former took a swipe at the latter and likened him to former senator Antonio Trillanes.
The President said both “want to hold power” in government. Duterte said Trillanes was “all-talk” after the former senator accused him and his long-time aide Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go of committing plunder.
The President then likened Trillanes’ latest stunt to that of Pacquiao, who earlier claimed that the Duterte administration was three times more corrupt than the Aquino government.
“Si Trillanes pareha ni Pacquiao ‘yan (Trillanes is the same as Pacquiao). They want to, you know, hold power because they must have – may nakita siguro silang magandang oportunidad nila para sa kanila,” he said.
Trillanes had said he would run for president in 2022 if Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo backed out.
The President also revived the tax evasion allegations against Pacquiao.
“I remember, he has a tax evasion case, and he has been assessed to pay 2.2 billion,” he said.
“I’ll try to find out; may utang ‘yan siya P2.2 billion – not because gusto ko siyang habulin ayaw ko. But sabi kasi niya corrupt. Kung corrupt kami, e di ikaw when you cheat government, you are a corrupt official, lalo na,” Duterte said during his meeting with members and officials of the PDP-Laban on Tuesday.