Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, special aide to the president, has repeatedly told the public that he has no intention to run as a senator in 2019.
Despite the pronouncement, however, various tarpaulins and paraphernalia with his face, name and slogan have been spotted across the country—indicative of an upcoming candidacy.
Recently, a text message from a number posing as “HALALAN2019” made its way to some Globe and Smart subscribers.
It’s not known if the message, describing itself as a “non-commissioned and independent survey,” was done by Go or his supporters.
It also appeared to be a spam since it contained an 11-digit mobile number and some typographical errors. Usually, messages from authorized organizations do not contain such details.
Like principal, like aide?
Go recently insisted he does not have any plans to run as a senator. The projected hesitation, however, is similar to that of his principal, Duterte, who delayed his filing for candidacy in 2015.
In October 2015, Duterte filed a certificate of candidacy for reelection as Davao City mayor despite calls and widespread pre-campaign paraphernalia suggesting a presidential bid. He also repeatedly claimed he would not pursue the highest post in the land.
Months later, however, the presidential candidate fielded by Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban, withdrew his own bid to give way to Duterte who would be the standard bearer in his stead. In May 2016, Duterte won the presidency by a large margin.
A look back at Bong Go’s statements
The chief executive said, “Kaya sabi ko nga, there was a talk, sinabi sa kanya [Go], ‘you’ll be called to testify.’ Sabi ko, ‘That is your golden opportunity para ma-senador ka.”
Go dismissed it as a joke and announced, “I would like to publicly state that I am not interested in running for a Senate seat.”
In a chance interview with the media during GoNegosyo 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship, Go said it was too early to speculate on his senatorial candidacy but mentioned it was up to Duterte.
Government officials came together to launch the “#ReadySetGo” initiative that urged Go to run. However, he reiterated he has no plans to do so.
“Hindi naman ako politiko, at kung sakali unang beses ko po itong sasabak, pero ang puwede ko lang ipagmakaki ay ang dalawampung taon kong karanasan kay Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte,” he said.
In a phone interview, Go pleaded the public to give him time to consider the decision, saying that he needed to focus on his responsibilities as special aide.
“Bigyan ninyo po ako ng kaunting panahon. Marami pa akong gagawin na trabaho. Sana maintindihan ninyo. Pero pagdating ng panahon, mag-di-decide po ako,” he said.
The day before that, the Bayan for Bong Go Movement was launched by his supporters from the local and national government agencies. It was spearheaded by leaders of different barangays.
Go said he wouldn’t run for senator, citing that he has no funds for the campaign.
“I don’t want to talk about it because it’s too early to discuss politics. First, I am not ready – not ready because I am not a politician,” he said.
The special aide confirmed he’s not interested in running and reasoned that it should be “planned properly.”
“I still have a lot of work to do. If I have such an ambition, it should be planned properly. It didn’t cross my mind yet,” he said.
In an ambush interview, Go again said: “Wala pa po. Trabaho lang po muna ako. Salamat po sa tiwala, nakakataba po ng puso. Pero masyado pang maaga para pag-usapan ‘yan.”
When pictures of relief goods bearing his name went viral on social media, it fueled speculations that he might be campaigning.
Go explained that he has friends in the private sector, who did the initiative.
“Meron rin po akong mga kaibigan, may foundation po na tumulong at nagdala ng sarili nilang sapatos at grocery packs na itulong doon sa mga nasunugan. Iba ang tulong yung pribado, iba yung tulong galing sa gobyerno,” he said.
He added that he has not requested for his name to be placed on the goods.
In a Facebook post, the special aide assured the public that he has no plans to become a senator:
“Do not worry, as I have no dream to become a senator. My loyalty is with the President and the Filipino nation… How about you, where does your loyalty lie?”
Go attended an event organized by the Go na Tayo Northern Mindanao Alliance and mentioned that his Senate candidacy is up to Duterte.
“It’s up to the president. I will just do as he says, in case I will run for senator. Right now, my focus is to help those victims of fire. My job is to help Filipinos,” he said.
Go denied that his activities in provinces were not a pre-election awareness drive. “My job is to help and I will do it anywhere I would go.”
The special aide also declared that people should not consider him as a candidate.
“Besides, I have not authorized anyone to solicit for me. I am not a candidate. Why would I look for election funds?” he said.
Low senatorial ranking
A recent Pulse Asia survey did not indicate Go among the top 12 preferred senators during the data-gathering period. He was on the 26th spot, with a people awareness level of 52 out of 100. The “Magic 12” so far are the following:
- Grace Poe
- Pia Cayetano
- Cynthia Villar
- Sara Duterte-Carpio
- Sonny Angara
- Jinggoy Estrada
- Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
- Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel
- Nancy Binay
- Serge Osmeña
- Lito Lapid
- JV Ejercito