Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao has said he will run for president of the country next year.
The boxing star attacked corruption in the government and singled out President Rodrigo Duterte‘s relationship with China in particular.
He was nominated by his political allies during the national assembly of the faction he leads in the ruling PDP-Laban Party.
It comes days after a rival faction nominated Mr Duterte’s long-time aide, Senator Christopher “Bing” Go, as its presidential candidate.
The faction also nominated Mr Duterte for vice president, which critics have called a cynical attempt for Mr Duterte to retain power.
Mr Go declined the nomination and the rift between the factions that supported Mr Pacquiao and Mr Duterte has deepened.
“I am a fighter, and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring,” Mr Pacquiao, 42, said during a live-streamed speech during the assembly.
“I am accepting your nomination as candidate for president of the Republic of the Philippines.”
His faction has not expressed support for Mr Duterte’s vice-presidential bid.
The current president is prohibited from running for a second six-year term by the country’s constitution.
Mr Pacquiao is the only boxer to hold world titles in eight different divisions.
But despite his popularity, he has lagged in opinion polls which have consistently been topped by Mr Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Mr Pacquiao was voted out as PDP-Laban leader in July after he challenged Mr Duterte about his alliance with China and record on fighting corruption.
Mr Pacquiao was once a close ally of Mr Duterte, but has said more than 10 billion pesos (£145,000) in pandemic aid intended for poor families remains unaccounted for.
He said it was just one discovery in his planned corruption investigation.
It comes as the Senate opened an investigation into alleged overpricing of medical supplies and equipment purchased by the government through its pandemic response programme.
Mr Duterte challenged Mr Pacquiao to name corrupt government officials and Mr Pacquiao responded by warning corrupt government officials would go to jail.
He said: “Your time is up!”
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