Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao (MNS Photo)

MANILA, Sept 20 (Mabuhay) — Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao on Sunday accepted the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) nomination to be the party’s presidential candidate in the upcoming 2022 national elections.

Pacquiao was voted as the official presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban faction, after being nominated by several regional representatives of the party during the national assembly on Sunday.

“Ngayon, sa takdang araw na ito, gusto kong alalahanin ninyo, sa ngalan po ng mga kababayn natin na matagal ng naghahangad ng tamang pagbabago sa atin pamahalaan, tapat na panunungkulan, at tapat na serbisyo sa mamayang Pilipino. Buong puso ko po, buong tapang, at kababaan loob ay umaasa po ako sa inyong suporta. Suporta na may dalangin ng gabay ng Panginoon. Tinatanggap ko po ang inyong nominasyon sa akin bilang kandidato sa pagkapangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas,” said Pacquiao in his acceptance speech.

“Exciting ito dahil malaki ang posibilidad na mananalo tayo sa darating na halalan at ang tunay na PDP-Laban and magpapatakbo ng gobyerno,” Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who also serves as the party’s Chairman, said earlier in his opening remarks.

The PDP-Laban party also agreed to delegate to Pacquiao the authority to choose his running mate and to complete the party’s senatorial lineup.

They have one Senate candidate so far — Lutgardo “Lutz” Barbo.

“I am a fighter and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring. Sa buong buhay, wala akong laban na inaatrasan. Dahil sa ngalan ng prinsipyo at karangalan ng bayan ay tumayo ako, nanindigan, at nakikipaglaban,” Pacquiao said.

 “The time is now. Ngayon na ang panahon… The strength of the party lies in the trust of our people whether we are 10,000 or a million strong, as long as we have our people’s trust, then we are unbeatable because God is with us,” he added.

The senator in his speech repeatedly mentioned his origin story, from a poor boxer experiencing hunger into the millionaire he is today. He also mentioned that he would seek to make the corrupt responsible for their actions.

PDP-Laban also voted in favor of collaborating and teaming up with like-minded groups to increase their odds in the coming polls.

Pacquiao first won a senatorial seat in the 2016 elections, with his current term set to end in 2022.

The opposing wing of the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had meanwhile endorsed Senator Christopher “Bong” Go as their presidential candidate, and  President Rodrigo Duterte as their candidate for the vice president in the coming polls.

Duterte accepted the endorsement, while Go declined, saying he is not interested in the presidency. Go has offered himself as the running mate of Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter.

The Cusi-led faction also filed a petition asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to declare Pacquiao and Pimentel as illegal representatives of the party, but they responded by insisting that they are the legitimate group, and will await the decision of the commission.

For his part, Pacquiao ordered the expulsion of Cusi and two other officials from the party over supposed violations of its by-laws and constitution.

Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research earlier this month lowered its short-term political risk index score for the Philippines, due to the infighting between the two factions.

“We at Fitch Solutions view the infighting within the Philippines’ government PDP-Laban party ahead of 2022 elections as detrimental to the country’s near-term policy-making outlook,” the group said.

“The PDP-Laban infighting and potential switching of allegiances in the coming months could disrupt policymaking at a time when the Philippine economy remains hampered by COVID-19,” it added.  (MNS)

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