MANILA – There is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an apology to Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the remarks after Pacquiao’s close ally, Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, demanded an apology from Duterte for his verbal tirades against the boxer-senator.
In an online press briefing, Roque said Duterte’s statements against Pacquiao are part of free speech.
“Wala pong dahilan para po mag-apologize. Lahat po iyan ay kabahagi ng free market place of ideas (There is no reason to apologize. All of [Duterte’s statements against Pacquiao] are part of free market place of ideas),” Roque said.
Puentevella, in an interview with One News’ The Chiefs on Tuesday, said Duterte “owes” Pacquiao an apology for issuing profanity-laced remarks against the lawmaker.
Duterte and Pacquiao, who both hail from Mindanao, have been allies for a long time since they are both under the ruling political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
However, Duterte and Pacquiao’s relationship has been strained because of the senator’s corruption claims against the government and ongoing feud with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Pacquiao was initially being considered by Duterte as among the personalities who might be the PDP-Laban’s standard bearer next year.
Pacquiao’s claim that corruption worsened under Duterte’s watch prompted the President to say that he would not support the former’s possible presidential bid in 2022, if the senator fails to substantiate his claim.
During the PDP-Laban’s national assembly led by Duterte in Clark, Pampanga on July 17, Cusi was installed as the party’s president, replacing Pacquiao.
Cusi’s latest designation came despite being expelled recently by Pacquiao and the PDP-Laban National Executive Committee as the party’s vice chairperson for allegedly “manipulating” members to support the possible tandem of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and her father in the 2022 elections as presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively.
Duterte has repeatedly said he does not want Sara to seek the presidency to spare her from the “vagaries of politics in the Philippines.” (PNA)