Recently retired Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao on Friday officially filed documents certifying his presidential bid weeks after a faction of the countrys ruling party nominated him to succeed incumbent president Rodrigo Duterte.
Hundreds of people still lined the streets Friday holding Pacquiaos portrait and small Philippine flags, according to The Associated Press. The crowd came out despite heavy coronavirus restrictions put in place to prevent large groups from gathering at a convention complex in Manila where candidates are registering from Oct. 1-8.
The boxing star was pictured holding up his certificate of candidacy for the presidency. Voters will decide in May of 2022 who will be the next president along with office of vice president and more than 18,000 national, local and congressional posts, the AP reported.
Along with Pacquiao, former national police chief Panfilo Lacson and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno have both said they plan to run to succeed Duterte, who is not able to seek reelection due to Philippines law limiting presidents to a single, six-year term.
However, Duterte has accepted the ruling PDP-Laban partys nomination to run for vice president, though a constitutional expert has said he plans to challenge his candidacy before the countrys Supreme Court, noting that the No. 2 role would put him only one step away from the presidency.
Pacquiao, a one-time ally of Duterte and a current Philippines senator, announced last month that he would be running for president, saying in a statement, “I am a fighter, and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring.
“I am accepting your nomination as candidate for president of the Republic of the Philippines, he added.
The 42-year-old, who officially declared his retirement from boxing Wednesday, has vowed to root out corruption he claims has worsened in the country under Dutertes administration.
Pacquiao told reporters Friday after filing his candidacy papers, Those who take advantage of the nation, stealing, robbing the Filipino nation, your happy days of taking advantage in the government are already numbered.
If the Lord places me there, I promise not only to the Filipino people, but also my promise to God, that they all will be put in prison, he added, according to the AP.
Pacquiao and Duterte had a very public falling out last year as the boxer attacked the president for his close relationship with China and accused him of not taking a strong stance to address corruption.