Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao Wants China Peace Panel if Elected Philippine President

Philippine boxer-turned-presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao said he will form a “peace panel” that will negotiate with Beijing on the South China Sea dispute if elected to the top post, while also deepening defense ties with the U.S.

“Our goal is to be a friend to all nations,” Pacquiao said at a virtual forum organized by the foreign correspondents association. The senator said that while he’ll explore diplomatic channels to resolve the sea row, China “should not abuse and trample on” the Philippines’ rights.

The Southeast Asian nation has been locked in a dispute with China in South China Sea, a key global trade gateway and energy source. Candidates to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte have pitched different approaches to the issue, with Vice President Leni Robredo pushing a coalition to counter China’s militarization, while frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is eyeing a deal with Beijing. National elections will be held on May 9.

QuickTake: China’s Territorial Disputes

Pacquiao also said at the forum that he plans to further lower personal income and corporate tax rates, while improving revenue collection by fighting corruption. “My presidency will be bloody for corrupt officials. I will personally drag them all to prison. Corruption is the root of all our suffering,” he said.

The athlete-turned-politician, who tied in third place with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno in the latest presidential poll, further said that he plans to attract votes from the masses and the southern Mindanao island where he comes from to overcome Marcos’s huge lead.

“It’s still early. If this is a boxing match, we’re still on Round 4 or 5, and this is a 12-round match. I believe that the D and E classes are with me. I will fight for them. I know that they are silently supporting me,” Pacquiao said.

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