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Pacquiao open to backing Robredo in Philippine poll

Bishop says boxing icon would cheapen the VP's presidential bid if he became her running mate

Pacquiao open to backing Robredo in Philippine poll

Philippine boxing icon and senator Manny Pacquiao signs an integrity pledge board as he files his certificate of candidacy to join the country's presidential race in Manila on Oct. 1. (Photo: AFP)

Manny Pacquaio has left the door open to stepping aside as a presidential candidate in next year’s election in the Philippines and backing the bid of current Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

The boxing icon said on Oct. 15 that he would be willing to back Robredo and run for vice president instead if that would improve the chances of defeating a candidate anointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The offer came despite the breakdown of previous talks between his and her camps over a possible match-up.

“Anything can happen until Nov. 15, anything’s possible. We are not closing our doors, but I am happy with my vice president [former Manila mayor] Lito Atienza,” Pacquiao told ABS-CBN.

Philippine election law allows the “substitution” of candidates until Nov. 15.

Pacquiao’s comments came as a surprise to many, including several evangelical groups supporting the boxing champ, who said his offer to team up with Robredo was due to his low ratings in opinion polls.

Maybe he is beginning to feel that he should run for a lower position such as vice president or senator perhaps instead of eyeing the highest office in the land

“Perhaps reality is beginning to sink in. He never ranked first or even second in recent surveys. Maybe he is beginning to feel that he should run for a lower position such as vice president or senator perhaps instead of eyeing the highest office in the land,” said Marcus de la Rama, a member of the evangelical Abundant Grace Church.

He was referring to a Pulse Asia Survey from Sept. 6-11 when Pacquiao ranked fourth behind Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and current Manila mayor Isko Moreno respectively.

At least two Catholic groups welcomed the offer, saying Pacquiao would stand “more chance” of success if he teamed up with Robredo.

Retired Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, however, said the move would not do the opposition any good. “I prefer somebody other than Pacquiao,” he told UCA News.

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He said it would be better if Pacquiao ran for the Senate again. “Not for vice president, just as a senator. It would cheapen Robredo’s bid if Pacquiao seeks to become her vice president,” he added.

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