Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy. (Photo courtesy of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy Facebok Page)

DAVAO CITY – Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the longtime televangelist-friend of President Rodrigo Duterte, said he will be forced to run for President in case Senator Manny Pacquiao does not accept his challenge to a public debate.

In his television program Tuesday, Quiboloy said he has been challenging Pacquiao to a public debate, but the latter, who announced his candidacy for the position, has evaded and instead filed a P100 million libel case against him. “Pero kung iiwasan pa rin niya itong debateng sinasabi ko sa kanya, mapipilitan ako, mapipilitan ako para hindi siya makaiwas sa debate. Alam ninyo ang ibig kong sabihin,” he said.

He said he would use his candidacy not only to challenge Pacquiao, but also groups affiliated with the Left, saying he has the platform to use against them. “Pag-ako nakapagdecide at kalooban ng Ama,” he said, pointing out that he has the capabilities for all the things that he does. He said has started contemplating to run after someone called him that he could win the presidential race. Quiboloy added that he will also give guidelines to candidates on what to do against those linked with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.

“Kailangang matuldukan na ang salot na ‘to,” he said, in reference to the communist movement. In case he makes his threat true, Quiboloy would become the fourth candidate for the position as aside from Pacquiao, those who have announced their candidacies are Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Manila Mayor Francisco Dumagoso. Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go was recently nominated by the faction of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi in the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, but he has rejected the nomination. The faction of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel in the party nominated Pacquiao.

Presidential daughter Sara Duterte, the city’s mayor, has been pushed to run for the position, but she has said she is not available after the PDP-Laban-Cusi faction nominated her father to run as vice president. The young Duterte, who changed her mind of not running for the position and decided to evaluate whether there was enough grassroots support for her candidacy, said there is an agreement in the family that only one member should vie for a national position.

Although she has confirmed that she and her brother, Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, are only seeking for reelection, groups pushing her to run for President have not abandoned their call. Instead they have continued to secure support as a new group, whose key members are her father’s key allies and are among those working for his election in the 2016 presidential race, has been recruiting more leaders to support her candidacy for the highest post. Former Davao del Norte governor Anthony del Rosario, chair of the newly-formed Hugpong Para Kay Sara and spokesperson of her regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, believed there is enough time to convince her to run and her father to abandon the nomination.

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Source: Mindanao Times (