MANILA, July 17 (Reuters) – Filipino senator and boxing star Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao was elected leader of the country’s ruling party on Saturday, weeks after challenging President Rodrigo Duterte over his position on the China and its record in the fight against corruption.
Pacquiao, 42, who is seen as a possible candidate to succeed Duterte in next year’s presidential election, has long been one of the president’s strongest supporters, supporting his bloody war on drugs and attempting to reintroduce the death penalty.
But ties between them deteriorated last month after Pacquiao denounced what he called Duterte’s soft stance on Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea, and said he was investigating corruption in the South China Sea. within government. Read more
A faction of the ruling Democratic Party led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, a close ally of Duterte, called for a vote at a National Assembly meeting on Saturday. Cusi was elected party chairman.
The vote was taken because existing officials had already exceeded their two-year term limit, Melvin Matibag, the party’s deputy general secretary, told reporters.
Duterte, who remains president, said in a speech to the assembly that the party was “stronger than ever and … united to further consolidate our ranks until the end of my term and beyond.”
Duterte has said he could run for vice president multiple times to be granted immunity from prosecution by political opponents. Political blood feuds are common in the Philippines, and former rulers, minus their immunity from office, have been prosecuted and even jailed after changes of power. Read more
Pacquiao said in a statement that the party should focus on preventing the spread of the more contagious variant of the Delta coronavirus.
The eight-division champion is in the United States to train for a welterweight title game and has yet to announce his candidacy for the presidency. He was sworn in as party chairman in December.
Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Helen Popper and Christina Fincher
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