Boxer Manny Pacquiao is suing an evangelist who accused the eight-division world champion of embezzling funds set for a US$70-million (HK$544.6 million) sports complex.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, self-proclaimed "Owner of the Universe" and "Appointed Son of God," is spiritual adviser to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, with whom Pacquiao is at odds.
Pacquiao, a senator, is considering running for president next year and has talked of corruption in Duterte's administration and his cozy relationship with China.
"He used a deliberate falsehood to brainwash the minds of the Filipino public," Pacquiao said in seeking US$2 million in libel damages from Quiboloy, whose Kingdom of Jesus Christ group claims four million followers in the country.
Pacquiao, 42, leads a faction in the ruling party that did not back Duterte for vice president in 2022. Duterte is blocked by the constitution from a second term as president.