Manny Pacquiao can kiss his presidential ambition goodbye with his expulsion from the administration PDP Laban, and with the looming run of President Rodrigo’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go for president and vice president, respectively, in next year’s elections.
President Duterte’s retirement and withdrawal as PDP Laban’s VP bet and Go stepping into Mr. Duterte’s shoes Saturday were masterstrokes in the heretofore drab and colorless political canvass.
Reminiscent of 2016, in fact, when the then reluctant-candidate Digong substituted as PDP Laban’s candidate for president on the 11th hour to win via landslide.
Mr. Duterte himself, in an ambush interview by reporters outside the Commission on Elections (Comelec) filing venue at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City, megaphoned to the world the Sara-Bong tandem that may be in the works, if not already a done deal necessitating only the refiling by the President’s daughter of a Certificate of Candidacy (CoC), this time for president.
Eager-beaver Pacquiao, meanwhile, committed political seppuku when on the first day of the filing of the CoC at the Comelec Friday, he did so for president under the banner of the Cebu-based Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (Promdi).
PDP Laban secretary-general Melvin Matibag correctly called Pacquiao’s action the equivalent of throwing in the towel — an abandonment of his and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel’s case before the Comelec claiming they are the rightful president and chairman, respectively, of PDP Laban.
Here, we are reminded of erstwhile Pacquiao best friend Chavit Singson’s statement the recently retired boxer should learn first before assuming he has what it takes to run a country. Pacquiao has been staggering from one booboo to another, his slip as a political neophyte showing.
In Pacquiao’s melodramatic boxing retirement video that did not earn for him any sympathy, Singson’s name did not even merit a mention when he was with the boxer in many of his fights, in and out of the ring, including in 2011 when the Ilocos Sur political kingpin refereed the boxer’s reported marital spat.
Like Singson, Matibag came short of calling Pacquiao user friendly, when the PDP Laban official said, “When it (staying in the party) was no longer useful to him, he already left us.”
In August, in the aftermath of Pacquiao’s career-ending loss to heavy underdog Yordenis Ugas of Cuba, Singson said he did not like how the boxer dropped him like a hot potato just because he cautioned him against levying more taxes on tobacco farmers.
“It was the first time I did not watch (his fight) because of the way he dropped me just because I told him the taxes against tobacco farmers are already excessive (for him to add more hardships to them),” Singson said.
“He made an example of me over the whole tobacco excise tax issue to enhance the senator’s image ahead of an anticipated presidential run,” Singson said then. “I’ve given him my full support then, but now that he threw me away, it’s not like I’ll insist on staying.”
Singson, as the Narvacan mayor head of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, can be expected to campaign against Pacquiao next year as the hard-edged politician is presently on a warpath against people, including his son, outgoing Ilocos Sur governor, who he thinks has bitten the hand that has fed them.
If Pacquiao has considered Singson a friend, confidante, mentor, adviser and father rolled into one, the senator has picked up a fight against someone who does not mind crossing swords with his flesh and blood.
As Singson told his son Ryan, against whom he is running for Ilocos Sur vice governor, he doesn’t sense any sincerity from his son despite his offer to withdraw his candidacy.
Pacquiao should quake in his boots because he may not even be welcome at Promdi since, as Chavit pointed out, the senator has been working against the interest of farmers living hand-to-mouth existences.