MANILA, Philippines — Former Bacolod mayor and congressman Monico Puentevella said reconciliation between President Duterte and Sen. Manny Pacquiao would be difficult after the Chief Executive hurled insults against the boxing champion.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao is no longer considering President Duterte a political ally even if they are still in the same party, former Bacolod mayor and congressman Monico Puentevella said on Tuesday night, July 20.
“Wala na, wala na siguro (It is over, maybe it is over). I’m being honest with you. Let’s call a spade a spade,” Puentevella told “The Chiefs” on One News channel.
Puentevella said Pacquiao has asked him to act as spokesman while the senator is in the United States preparing for his bout with Errol Spence Jr. on Aug. 21.
According to Puentevella, reconciliation between the two would be difficult, especially after Pacquiao was insulted by Duterte as the senator was ousted as the president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
On Saturday, July 17, the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and backed by Duterte removed Pacquiao as the ruling party’s president during an assembly in Pampanga. He was replaced by Cusi as the new party president.
Allies of Pacquiao insist that the meeting and the election had violated the party’s constitution.
Cusi’s group, however, maintained that the event was compliant with the party’s charter.
Pacquiao was also not given a chance to explain his side through his request for a meeting with the President, Puentevella said.
Earlier, Pacquiao wrote a letter to the President requesting for a meeting to talk about the squabble between party members but he did not receive any response from Duterte.
According to Puentevella, the boxer-turned-senator deserves an apology for the insults hurled against him by the Chief Executive.
“Even if you are the President, for a senator na minura mo, at least you owe him an apology. Kung di ka mag-apologize kay senator ito ay magtatapos sa dulo…sa [susunod] na eleksyon (If you don’t apologize to the senator, this will end in the next elections),” he said.
Reacting to the previous statement of Duterte that he will run for vice president in 2022 for impunity, he dared the President and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to run as a tandem to know if the public wants a dynasty.
“If in fear of retribution, takot siya mabilanggo (he is afraid to be jailed), bakit? Ano ba kasalanan niya? Bakit siya takot mabilanggo? (why? What is his sin? Why he is afraid to go to jail?)” he asked.
“Kasi maski unconstitutional, pipilitin magingconstitutional. Pwede! Kasi nga may kapangyarihan(Because even if it is unconstitutional, they will insist it is constitutional. Possible! Because they have power),” he added.
Even if the father-and-daughter tandem runs in 2022, Puentevella emphasized that it would not stop Pacquiao from running as the senator is sure to seek the presidency, with or without the party.
“He wants to help the poor, he wants to improve the country,” he pointed out.
Pacquiao also does not need to leave PDP-Laban as he is one of the pioneer members of the party unless he will be “forcibly” removed by the faction of Cusi.
“Eh tinanggap lang naman nila nung 2016 si Presidente. So ‘di ‘yan aalis unless alisin again. Aalisin na naman by force, by kapangyarihan (They just accepted the President in 2016. So he will not leave the party unless he gets removed again. He will again be removed by force, by power),” Puentevella said, referring to Pacquiao.
Malacañang rejected the call of Puentevella to apologize to Pacquiao.
Duterte has been criticizing Pacquiao in public in remarks that highlight the soured relationship between the once close political allies.
The President has called Pacquiao “punch-drunk” for alleging that some P10 billion in aid for sectors displaced by pandemic-related lockdowns is missing. The President has also claimed that Pacquiao has a “very shallow” knowledge of the West Philippine Sea row after the senator said he finds the administration’s response to the dispute lacking.
Duterte also said Pacquiao doesn’t read and that it was Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III who should be blamed for their party squabbles.
“There is no reason to apologize,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a press briefing on Wednesday July 21.
“All of these (remarks) are part of the free market place of ideas,” he added.
Reporting by Nadine Castro