PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte would fly to Malaysia on Saturday, July 14, a day before the scheduled boxing match between Filipino legend Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Argentine World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the President would leave the country at around 3 p.m., Saturday.
“[There will be] no departure statement,” Roque said in a statement.
Duterte's visit to Malaysia was initially set as a “private” trip to watch the much-awaited bout between Pacquiao and Matthysse for the WBA welterweight title.
The Pacquiao-Mathysse fight, dubbed as the “Fight of Champions,” is scheduled on Sunday, July 15, at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In a separate statement on Saturday, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go said Pacquaio's fight “is a fight of the whole country.”
“Ang laban ni Manny ay laging laban para sa bansa. Binibigay niya ang kanyang buong lakas at tapang para maipakita sa mundo na ang Pilipino ay lumalaban hindi lang sa loob ng boxing ring kundi sa buhay,” Go said.
(Manny's fight is always a fight for the country. He's giving all his strength and courage to show the world that a Filipino is fighting not only inside the boxing ring but also for life.)
“I wish all the best of luck to Manny on his fight this Sunday. May he show the Filipinos a good fight. May he give Matthysse a run for the title belt,” he added.
Since the President would be in Kuala Lumpur, he decided to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for the first time before returning to the Philippines on Monday, July 16.
This developed after Duterte's brief phone conversation with Mahathir on July 9.
Roque earlier said the two leaders are expected to discuss the rebellion in Mindanao, and the threat of the Islamic Stat eof Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the region.
“The President said Mr. Mahathir wanted to discuss with him the issue of the insurgency in Mindanao, as well as the issue of ISIS in the region,” the Palace official had said. (Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)