I'm still running for president – Pacquiao

Aspiring president Senator Manny Pacquiao said that his plans for the 2022 elections have not changed despite meeting with erstwhile foe President Rodrigo Duterte.

After several attempts by reporters to get Pacquiao's comment on the meeting, he issued a statement on Thursday, November 11 saying: "Walang atrasan. Tuloy ang laban. (We will not back out. The fight is on.)"

Pacquiao paid a courtesy call with Duterte on Tuesday night, November 9, which, he said, was arranged "by common friends."

"It wasn’t a political meeting but it provided us an opportunity to talk about our shared vision for Mindanao," said Pacquiao.

It was unclear if both Duterte or Pacquiao apologized to one another as tensions mounted in the past months given the warring factions within ruling party PDP-Laban. Pacquiao's camp has yet to answer this question.

But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters on Thursday that Pacquiao and Duterte "renewed" their friendship.

"Ang alam ko lang po ay nagkaroon ng renewal ng pagkakaibigan ang Presidente at tsaka si Senator Pacquiao. Hindi ko alam ano ang magiging epekto nitong bagong pagkakaibigan sa kandidatura ni Senator Pacquiao," Roque said.

(From what I know, there was a renewal of friendship between the President and Senator Pacquiao. I don't know what is going to be the effect of this renewed friendship on the candidacy of Senator Pacquiao.)

In the Thursday statement, Pacquiao said that he is maintaining his resolve in spite of the meeting. Pacquiao ended his illustrious decades-long boxing career that earned him worldwide fame to gamble on the high-stakes presidential election.

"Hindi nagbabago ang paninindigan ko sa pagtakbo bilang Pangulo. Ipakulong ang mga kawatan at i-angat ang buhay ng mga mahihirap nating kababayan. Hindi ako trapo mag-isip. Ang panalo ko ang magpapanalo sa buhay ng bawat Pilipino," he said.

(My plans to run for the presidency did not change. I will imprison the thieves and I will raise the living standard of our poor countrymen. I don't think like a traditional politician. My victory is what will make the lives of every Filipino feel like they won as well.)

The camp led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

The infighting within PDP-Laban has pushed the Cusi camp to ask the Commission on Elections to declare the Pacquiao faction as illegitimate.

The squabble was also the reason why Pacquiao decided to run under the banner of PROMDI instead.

The deadline for the substitution of candidates is on Monday, November 15. This development also comes as presidential daughter Sara Duterte withdrew her bid for reelection as Davao City Mayor, as well as Senator Bong Go hinting at possibly withdrawing his vice presidential bid. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.