MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday his former long-time aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go wants to be president.
In a speech at the inauguration of a port building in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Duterte said Go asked him for a "favor" as they got off a plane.
"Sabi niya medyo it leaves a bad taste in the mouth, malayo pa e, pero ikaw na lang ang magsabi sa kanila," Duterte said.
"Sabihin ko, ang totoo talaga, isang bagay lang, sabihin daw sa inyo, gusto niya maging Presidente."
(He said it slightly leaves a bad taste in the mouth, it's still far away, but be the one to tell them. I said, in truth, just one thing, he said to tell you that wants to be President.)
Duterte's remarks came on the same day news broke that his party, PDP-Laban, was asking him to run for Vice President in 2022, when his term as chief executive ends.
Go belongs to the same party.
Duterte, in a speech last week, called Go "President," seemingly in jest.
Go, whose term in the Senate lasts until 2025, said the President's latest comment was just a joke.
"Salamat po sa tiwala pero alam naman po ng Pangulo na hindi talaga ako interesado. Biro lang ng Pangulo iyon," he said in a statement.
(Thank you for the trust, but the President knows that I'm really not interested. That just a joke of the President.)
However, Go said, "Magbabago lang siguro ang isip ko kung tatakbong Vice President si Pangulong Duterte."
(My mind might only change is President Duterte will run as vice president.)
Duterte campaigned for Go during the 2019 Senate race, that saw the defeat of all candidates from the opposition slate Otso Diretso.
The Senate neophyte went straight to a national position on his first election bid. While now a lawmaker, he continues to be seen on the President's side in his official events.
Go also features prominently on state TV's Laging Handa briefing, the only lawmaker with regular appearances there.
Recently, he was the one who made major announcements related to the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, ahead of confirmations by the vaccine czar himself.
The Chief Executive has said in multiple occasions that his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio would not seek to succeed him in the 2022 elections.
Duterte said women are not fit to be President.
He also said Vice President Leni Robredo can't be Chief Executive, though she has not revealed plans for the 2022 race. Robredo is the leader of the opposition.
The President's spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, accused Robredo of politicking, an allegation that her spokesman Barry Gutierrez fired back at Duterte's allies.
Video courtesy of PTV