Duterte to Pacquiao: I want to make you President

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  • President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a photo with Senator Manny Pacquiao and his family.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 18) — Is the Philippines ready for "President" Manny Pacquiao?

President Rodrigo Duterte thinks so, if he can groom the boxing legend and senator as his successor.

"I am dedicating this message to Manny. You know why? Sabi ko sa kanya, at one time, kami lang dalawa nag-uusap: 'Yung style mo na 'yan gusto kita gawing presidente. Alam mo kaya mo,'" Duterte said in remarks during Senator Pacquiao's 39th birthday on Sunday.

[Translation: I am dedicating this message to Manny. You know why? I told him one time, while we were alone: "Your style encourages me to make you President. You know, you can do it."]

The President lauded Pacquiao's achievements in boxing.

"You have brought so much pride and joy to our country for being a world champion in the field of boxing. The determination you have shown and the humility you embody in the midst of glorious triumphs are worthy of emulation by our countrymen," Duterte said in front of Pacquiao and hundreds of guests in a celebration the KCC Convention in General Santos City.

Pacquiao is an eight-division world boxing champion after having won eleven major world titles. He holds a record of 59 wins, 7 losses, and 2 draws. He recently lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight title to Australian boxer Jeff Horn in July.

Duterte added he is glad Pacquiao is with him in public service.

"As a senator, you have demonstrated the qualities of a true leader-someone who believes that in order to make the Philippines a better country, we have to keep our people on top of our priorities," he said.

In the 2016 polls, Pacquiao got 15,592,390 votes, landing him the seventh spot in the 12-man senatorial slate.

Before he was senator, he was a congressman of Sarangani province. During the elections, he drew flak for his sparse attendance as a solon, as well as his controversial remarks towards the LGBT community.