Malacañang yesterday rejected the call of a former lawmaker for President Duterte to apologize to Sen. Manny Pacquiao over his recent tirades against the senator.
Duterte has been criticizing Pacquiao in public remarks, highlighting the soured relationship between the once close political allies.
He called Pacquiao “punch-drunk” for alleging that some P10 billion in aid for sectors displaced by pandemic-related lockdowns is missing.
The President also claimed that Pacquiao has a “very shallow” knowledge of the West Philippine Sea row after the senator said he finds the administration’s response to the dispute lacking.
Former Bacolod congressman Monico Puentevella, an ally of Pacquiao, recently told One News channel’s “The Chiefs” that Duterte owes Pacquiao an apology for his harsh words directed at the senator.
Puentevella also admitted that Pacquiao may no longer be considered an ally of Duterte.
“There is no reason to apologize,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.
“All of these (remarks) are part of the free marketplace of ideas.”
Last Saturday, Pacquiao was ousted as acting president of the ruling PDP-Laban during a meeting attended by Duterte, who also serves as party chairman.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was elected as the new party president but allies of Pacquiao insist that the meeting and the election had violated the party’s constitution.
‘Nene well loved in CDO’
Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno expressed deep hurt by statements of President Duterte dragging the late Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. into the conflict among members of PDP-Laban.
Speaking at the virtual press briefing initiated by the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson yesterday, Moreno was unable to hide his disappointment when asked about Duterte’s latest tirades against the Pimentels in their rift over the ruling party.
“I would view the statement of the President as part of the political season. And it’s just painful that Nene was dragged into it. When he mentioned Senator Koko (Pimentel III), that’s OK, that’s fair game, but when he mentioned, Senator Nene, it’s quite painful,” he said.
Moreno, a seasoned politician, said the elder Pimentel was a well-loved son of Cagayan de Oro, contrary to Duterte’s belief.
“People here in Cagayan de Oro know the kind of person Nene Pimentel was,” he said. “You know, many local leaders who went to Manila as senator were focused on local politics because it was their bailiwicks, but that was not senator Nene. When he became senator, he focused on the issues of the country, not local politics.”
“So, I’m sure the President did not mean that… I would say Senator Koko can defend himself but not in the case of senator Nene. But we know deep in our hearts how we love senator Nene,” Moreno said.
Duterte, during the PDP-Laban gathering, said the Pimentels would not win even in Cagayan de Oro.