Pacquiao sure to run for President in 2022, spox says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — Senator Manny Pacquiao's presidential bid in the 2022 elections is set in stone, according to his spokesperson and political adviser.

"Bahala na kung sinong [ibang] tatakbo (It doesn't matter who else are running) but Manny Pacman Pacquiao is going to run for President… he will file his candidacy," former Bacolod Mayor and Congressman Monico Puentevella told CNN Philippines on Friday.

Puentevella, president of the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas, said Pacquiao requested him to speak on his behalf when it comes to political issues so the boxer-turned-lawmaker could focus on preparing for his August 21 title match against Errol Spence in Las Vegas.

It could be Pacquiao's last fight in the boxing ring, especially if he'll be elected President, Puentevella said. He said he also serves as one of his long-time friend's political advisers, and that they "were already working on his candidacy" before Pacquiao left for the US on July 3.

Puentevella said Pacquiao is set to talk to several political parties upon returning to the country. "Everybody's waiting to sit down with him and then we will discuss, sinong vice president, sinong senatorial."

Asked if it's possible Pacquiao would give way to another presidential candidate and seek reelection or the vice presidency instead, Puentevella said it's out of the question.

In a separate text message to CNN Philippines, Senator Koko Pimentel said Pacquiao has had a senatorial lineup "for the longest time but still very tentative."

Pimentel said Pacquiao himself will make the announcement on whether he'll run for President or not in September, along with his running mate and senatorial slate.

The two senators are fighting for their place in the ruling PDP-Laban party. A group backed by the party chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte, ousted Pacquiao as president and Pimentel as executive vice chairman on July 17. The Pacquiao party wing, however, insists he remains the PDP-Laban president.

PDP-Laban is divided on who shall be its standard bearer in 2022. Pimentel and other old guards and grassroots leaders want it to be Pacquiao. Meanwhile, the group led by elected PDP-Laban president Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is urging Duterte to run for Vice President and choose his running mate — fueling talks it would eventually be presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who's not from PDP-Laban.

Both sides say they are ready to prove that they are the legitimate PDP-Laban before the Commission on Elections and even the Supreme Court.