Duterte praises Bong Go, calls him ‘president’

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos  

(Photo courtesy of PCOO)

MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday heaped praise on Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and even called the lawmaker “president.”

Duterte made the oblique hint about Go’s possible presidential bid in 2022 during the joint meeting of national and regional task forces to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) held in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental.

At the event, Duterte introduced Go as “presidente” and instructed his former special aide to greet the audience.

“Presidente, tindog og usab be angayan ba ka. Tindog og usab. Tindog unya ana-ana dayon sa mga…. Mubo ra na. Itaas ana. (Presidente, kindly stand up again let’s see if it suits you well. Stand up again. Stand up and wave to the people. That’s too low, raise your hand higher),” Duterte told Go, drawing applause from the crowd.

Go started in 1998 as the personal assistant of Duterte, who was then Davao City mayor. He also served as Special Assistant to the President from June 30, 2018 to Oct. 15, 2018 before securing a seat at the Senate.

Duterte lauded Go for being “very hardworking” and for helping Filipinos, especially the fire victims.

“Senator Go? Basin… Kugihan kaayo ni. Basig asa mabasa nimo sa newspaper, di ba? Naay sunog didto, moadto siya. Basig asa (Senator Go? He might… He’s very hardworking. You always read his name in the newspaper, don’t you? If there’s a fire somewhere, he’ll go there wherever it may be),” he said.

Duterte also cited Go’s credentials, telling the audience that the senator is a product of De La Salle University and has roots in Batangas.

Reacting to Duterte’s remarks, Go said he has no plan to run for president in 2022.

“I am very grateful for the trust given to me by the President. Salamat po sa tiwala pero hindi po ako interesado,” he said in a statement.

Go added that he is focused on serving the public and helping them cope with the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Pagdating sa usaping pulitika, please count me out. Dahil kung hindi natin malampasan ang krisis na ito, wala na tayong pulitika na pag-uusapan pa (When it comes to politics, please count me out. We could not talk about politics until we can overcome this crisis),” he said.

During a situational briefing on the impact of Tropical Storm Auring in Tandag City on Feb. 23, Duterte encouraged Go to seek the country’s highest post next year.

On Feb. 26, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Go is also qualified to become Dutere’s successor.

Panelo also said there would be continuity of Duterte’s legacy, in case Go decides to join the 2022 presidential race. (PNA)

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