By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is “inspired” to hold a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday following the stunning knockout victory of Senator Manny Pacquiao.
Ahead of their formal bilateral talks, Duterte and Mahathir watched Pacquiao beat his Argentine opponent Lucas Matthysse in a world title bout.
The two leaders were seated beside each other as they marvelled at Pacquiao’s skills during the boxing match. They later extended their congratulations to Pacquiao on his knockout win.
“Tomorrow I will have the round of talks with the Prime Minister of Malaysia and I am also inspired to talk with because of the Pacquiao’s victory,” Duterte said in a media interview after the boxing match.
The President, who was accompanied by his son Sebastian Duterte, said he has no regrets flying abroad to watch Pacquiao’s latest fight.
“I am very happy, no regrets that I came earlier to watch the fight, it’s a good one,” Duterte said.
“And it’s the first time that I traveled outside the Philippines just to see him fight. Other fights were held in the United States mostly,” he added.
Duterte earlier lauded Pacquiao for being one of the world’s greatest boxers but encouraged him to hang up his gloves. He said 39-year-old Pacquiao should rest on his laurels and enjoy life with his family.
Mahathir, who arrived late and watched the last few rounds of the match, hailed Pacquiao’s victory as a historic day for Malaysia. The Prime Minister noted the boxing match was witnessed by the leaders from two countries.
“This is part of our boxing diplomacy (but) we don’t punch each other,” Mahathir said during the media interview.
After watching the match, Duterte and Mahathir had lunch based on the photos released by the Palace.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the two leaders are expected to discuss the issue of insurgency in Mindanao as well as the threat of the Islamic State in the region during their upcoming meeting.
Duterte and Mahathir earlier had a brief phone conversation and agreed to meet in Malaysia on Monday.