Pacquiao free to prove corruption raps, says Roque; gets good wishes for fight

Published July 22, 2021, 2:32 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

“It’s a free country.”

President Rodrigo Duterte attends Senator Manny Pacquiao’s 38th birthday celebration at the KCC Mall Events & Convention Center in General Santos City on December 17, 2016. (Malacañang)

With this statement, Malacañang seemed unperturbed by Senator Manny Pacquiao’s reported plans to show proof of alleged corruption in government after his boxing match abroad.

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Pacquiao could do anything he wanted as part of the country’s vibrant democracy.

Pacquiao earlier alleged that corruption has worsened under the administration, citing irregularities in some agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development. After Roque belittled his corruption claims as “watusi,” the senator said he intends to release video and audio recordings to prove the irregularities in government when he returns to the country.

“Pabayaan natin si Senator Pacquiao kung ano ang gusto niyang isiwalat (Let Senator Pacquiao do what he wants). It is a free country,” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, July 22.

For now, Roque wished anew Pacquiao good luck in his upcoming fight against unbeaten American champ Errol Spence Jr. Pacquiao is currently in the United States training and preparing for the match on August 22.

“Pero sa ngayon kaisa niya kami, kaisa niya ang buong sambayanang Pilipino in wishing him good luck sa pagdating ng laban niya (But for now, we are one with him, the Filipino nation is one in wishing him good luck in his upcoming fight),” he said.

The President earlier challenged Pacquiao to identify the agencies allegedly involved in corruption to prove he was not politicking ahead of the 2022 elections. The boxer-turned-lawmaker is rumored to be eyeing a presidential run next year.

Relations between Duterte and Pacquiao were strained after the latter initially criticized the President’s alleged soft stance towards CHina’s alleged incursions in the West Philippine Sea. Duterte bristled at Pacquiao’s criticisms, telling him to study first about foreign policy.

When Pacquiao commented about the alleged corruption in government, Duterte blew his top and accused the boxing icon of being “punch-drunk” in making such baseless claims. He threatened to campaign against Pacquiao if he is unable to prove the corruption allegation against his government.