MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he wants Filipino boxing icon-turned Senator Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao to be his successor.
Speaking at Pacquiao's 39th birthday bash in Manila on Sunday (Dec 17), Duterte said the boxing champion was capable of becoming the country's next president. "I told him while we were alone, I want you to become president," Duterte said.
Pacquiao is a Senate member for Duterte's ruling PDP-Laban party. The boxing senator has admitted to using drugs as a teenager but has backed Duterte's brutal "drugs war", which has seen hundreds being killed each month by police and vigilantes since the president took office last June.
The President said it was his pleasure to celebrate another milestone in Pacquiao's life. "You have brought so much pride and joy to our country for being the world champion in the field of boxing," Duterte said.
"The determination you have shown and the humility embodied in the glorious triumph are worthy of emulation. Continue to inspire as we lead them towards a more prosperous life," Duterte added.
Recalling how he used to be just another ordinary man roaming the streets of this city, Pacquiao said in his message he did not expect the kind of life he was having now.
"I want to be an inspiration to everyone, especially the poor. Don't be discouraged, because God has plan for you," Pacquiao said.
The Senator's mother, Dionisia, said she was not sure if God would bring them enough money to make Pacquiao win the presidency but she assured her son she would support him. "I want you to take care of yourself and to keep praying every night," she said.