Rodriguez: Stop attacking Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Monday called on critics of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to observe a “ceasefire” on attacks against the boxing champion ahead of his fight against American Errol Spence.

Rodriguez issued the statement two days after Pacquiao was ousted as party president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

“I am calling for a ceasefire on attacks against our boxing icon to allow him to focus single-mindedly on his training. He has to prepare well for his fight. There should be nothing to distract and bother him,” he said.

Amid infighting in PDP-Laban, Pacquiao left the country early July for his Aug. 21 boxing match against Spence in Las Vegas.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who was earlier expelled by Pacquiao, replaced the senator as party president during an assembly of the Cusi-led faction of the PDP-Laban at Clark Field in Pampanga on Saturday.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticizing Pacquiao after the senator said the current administration was “three times more corrupt” than the previous one.

But Rodriguez appealed to Pacquiao’s critics to unite for the world boxing champion’s victory.

“Let us all support him because he brings pride and honor to our country. We will have time for divisive politics after the fight,” he said.

He called on both factions of the PDP-Laban to bring their leadership dispute to the Commission on Elections and the Supreme Court after Pacquiao’s fight, saying “these are the proper fora to resolve this issue.”

“In the meantime, Secretary Cusi should now go back to attending to our energy-related problems like the red and yellow alerts signifying short supply in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon,” he said.

Cusi has been criticized for prioritizing political issues of the PDP-Laban while Metro Manila and large parts of Luzon have been experiencing brownouts.

He was also told by the consumer group Power for People Coalition (P4P) to address high electricity rates, reminding him that he is being paid by the Filipino people as energy secretary and not PDP-Laban.

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