MANILA – Senatorial aspirant former special assistant to the president Christopher "Bong" Go on Wednesday labeled as “baseless” an opinion piece that said he has the potential to become President Rodrigo Duterte’s successor.
“It’s a wild imagination po 'yan. Wala po akong ambisyon sa ganung posisyon,” Go said in a press briefing in Sorsogon on Sunday, comments his camp released in a statement on Wednesday.
(That’s the product of wild imagination. I have no ambition to hold such a position.)
“Gaya ng sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte ang posisyon na 'yan eh hindi inaambisyon. It’s a gift of God. Ibinibigay 'yan ng Panginoon kung sinong tao sa tingin niya nung panahon na 'yun na bagay na mamahala sa ating bansa.”
(Just like what President Duterte said, that position should not be the subject of one’s ambition. It’s a gift of God. God gives that position to whoever he thinks is best suited to lead the country.)
In an opinion piece for the South China Morning Post, political analyst Richard Heydarian said Go, along with Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, “have both emerged as formidable contenders” in the 2022 elections.
Heydarian also floated the idea of Duterte-Carpio and Go running together in 2022.
“If the current political momentum persists, one could imagine a formidable Sara-Bong Go ticket to succeed Duterte and protect his legacy,” Heydarian said.
Heydarian explained that Duterte would need a predecessor who will “protect him against the very fate that bedeviled his predecessors.”
“For the past half-century, no Filipino president has been able to ensure his or her anointed successor takes power,” Heydarian said in his column.
“This is fundamentally because of the high anti-incumbency bias of the Philippine electorate, who tend to swing wildly between opposite types of statesmen.”
Heydarian said the opposition could tap on the “anti-incumbency bias” of the electorate and possibly rescind the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, where the Filipino leader is facing probe over thousands of deaths linked to his drug war.
In the absence of a robust challenge from the opposition, Heydarian said Duterte could use the midterm elections to consolidate power. Duterte’s allies are expected to dominate the senatorial race and ensure that his legislative priorities will be tackled.
Meanwhile, journalist Ellen Tordesillas, in an opinion piece, quoted an unnamed analyst as saying that Duterte wants Go to succeed him in 2022 because “he can’t control Sara.”
"The analyst said it is important to Duterte that Bong Go will be the senatorial contest topnotcher in the May 2016 election, because he interprets it as the power of his endorsement which he thinks he can extend up to 2022," Tordesillas said.
Duterte-Carpio is seeking reelection to the Davao mayoralty. She is leading the campaign of her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which has endorsed 13 senatorial candidates, including Go.
Go zoomed to the third spot in the latest Pulse Asia Survey, a demonstration of the power of Duterte's endorsement and campaign machinery.
Before launching his senatorial bid, Go said he was not going to run for the chamber.