MANILA – Malacañang said on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte does not need to apologize to Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.
After Pacquiao’s close supporter, Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella, demanded an apology from Duterte for his verbal tirades against the senator, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement.
Roque claimed in an online press conference that Duterte’s accusations against Pacquiao are part of his right to free expression.
“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.
In an interview with One News’ The Chiefs on Tuesday, Puentevella stated that Duterte “owes” Pacquiao an apology for his profanity-laced remarks against the lawmaker.
Duterte and Pacquiao, who are both from Mindanao, have been allies for a long time since they are both members of the ruling political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Due to the senator’s allegations of government corruption and his ongoing dispute with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Duterte and Pacquiao’s friendship has been strained.
Duterte had regarded Pacquiao as one of the people who may be the PDP-Laban’s standard bearer next year.
Pacquiao’s assertion that corruption intensified under Duterte’s administration caused the President to remark that if the senator fails to back up his claim, he will not support the senator’s probable presidential candidacy in 2022.
On July 17, Cusi was appointed as the party’s president, succeeding Pacquiao, at the PDP-Laban’s national congress, which was headed by Duterte in Clark, Pampanga.
Cusi was recently expelled as the PDP-Laban National Executive Committee’s vice chairperson by Pacquiao for allegedly “manipulating” members to support Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and her father as presidential and vice presidential candidates in the 2022 elections, respectively.
Duterte has stated frequently that he does not want Sara to run for president in order to protect her from the “vagaries of Philippine politics”.