President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night said he would campaign against boxing champion and Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao if he fails to identify corrupt government officials.
“I’m challenging him, tell me which offices have corruption and I will take care of it,” he said in in a televised speech in mixed English and Filipino. “I will do something within a week.”
“If you will fail to do that, I will campaign against you, because you are not doing your duty,” he told Mr. Pacquiao.
The boxing legend, who had criticized the President’s stance on the country’s sea dispute with China, said state corruption is rampant. Graft is the main cause of poverty in the Philippines, he told the ABS-CBN News Channel.
Mr. Pacquiao, who serves as acting president of the ruling political party headed by Mr. Duterte, is believed to be seeking the presidency at next year’s elections.
The President said the senator should not think that he could solve graft once he becomes President.
“All these years you’ve said nothing but heaped praises for me,” Mr. Duterte said. “Now you say there’s corruption.”
The Philippines slipped two spots in a global corruption index released by Transparency International in January. Widespread corruption has weakened many countries’ response to the coronavirus pandemic, it said.
Efforts to control corruption in the Philippines has appeared mostly stagnant since 2012, the watchdog said.