President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night ribbed his top aide Christopher "Bong" Go on the latter's supposed senatorial bid.
"Itong si Bong, go!," he said during the national convention of Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee in Pasay City.
The crowd cheered while a group raised a banner with Go's image and inscription "Ready, set, Go!"
Duterte then went on to defend Go from allegation that the chief executive assistant intervened in the Navy Frigate deal.
"Sumabit 'yung pangalan niya. Wala talagang alam. Kaya sabi ko Bong, pumunta ka doon, just answer," Duterte said, referring to the Senate defense and security hearing on the P15.7-billion procurement of Navy ships under the military's modernization program.
"Walang transaksiyon sa gobyerno na dumadating sa table ko. Pinagbawal ko 'yan. MRT contract o airport, hindi ako nakikialam," he added.
Go and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque are being eyed by the ruling PDP-Laban to run for the 2019 senatorial elections.
Both have yet to announce their candidacy. But during the national convention, fans bearing Roque's image were distributed to members.
Duterte, meanwhile, said his party would welcome those who wish to jump ship, noting the practice is common in Philippine politics.
"Ako kung suportahan ako ng karamihan ng tao, I will appreciate it. Nagsama tayo, hindi kayo tumulong sa akin. Kay Binay kayo. Kay Mar. Wala na akong pakialam. Tapos na 'yun. Panalo na ako," Duterte said.
"Partnership na lang tayo. 'Yung ayaw talaga, doon tayo maglagay ng… So ayaw mong mag-join sa amin, it's politics, sige. Pero kung magkausap tayo, ibigay mo sa amin 'yung Congress, iyo 'yung local governments. Palit-palit na lang tayo para everybody happy," he added.
But for those who refuse to be a partner, Duterte said in jest, "Kung gusto mo, ipa-ambush mo 'yung mayor dito. Uso. Uso man 'yan dito. Oo. Mas marami 'yan dito kaysa Mindanao. Eh ang amin doon iba ang… Dito ang ano 'pag hindi madala, ipa-ambush si Mayor."
"So kung hindi kayo magkaintindihan, magpatayan na lang kayo. Kung sino 'yung mabuhay, 'yun na iyon. Eh ayaw ninyo magpa-areglo eh," he added.