President Rodrigo Duterte attended on Saturday the birthday celebration of senator Manny Pacquiao in General Santos City.
Or in Duterte’s words, the next leader of the Philippines.
“I have to meet with ‘president-to-be’ Manny Pacquiao,” Duterte said amid cheers in the event celebrating Pacquiao’s 38th birthday.
“Ako nagbitaw na ng salita klaro na ‘yan. Kasi nakita ko linya mo ‘yan [Manny], ako walang linya.”
World boxing champion is known to be a close friend and political ally of the president.
Pacquiao joined Duterte in a state visit to Cambodia earlier this week where both were received warmly by the Filipino community.
Pacquiao is known to have presidential ambitions.
In 2013, Pacquiao told Agence France-Presse the presidency is in his mind.
Even in the run-up to Pacquiao’s bout against Floyd Mayweather, his promoter, Bob Arum, reignited Pacquiao-the-politician talk when he said his client had a strategy laid-out for a presidential run.
“He is going to be a president,” Arum told paparazzi website TMZ. “He is going to run for the Senate of the Philippines in 2016 and then 2022 or maybe later he’ll run for president.”