Who will replace the 'irreplaceable' Bong Go?

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 16 2018 06:18 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to pick a replacement for Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, but confirmed talk that the legal counsel of the chief executive’s friend is being considered for the post.

Go, who was once described by former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque as someone who can never be replaced, will have to leave Duterte’s side for the meantime as he will be busy in his campaign for his senatorial bid.

“The President has not yet made any decision on who will replace Christopher Bong Go as Special Assistant of the President,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told CNN Philippines.

Panelo, nonetheless, confirmed that lawyer Charmalou Aldevera, legal counsel of Duterte’s friend Apollo Quiboloy, is being considered for the post.

Having been with President Duterte for two decades, Go is considered the person to reach to get an audience with the chief executive. Wherever Duterte goes, he would almost always also be there.

A victory in the Senate race for Go would be bittersweet, as this would also mean leaving Duterte, who has heavily relied on him for the good part of his political life, for the remainder of his term as President.

“This is my first time na sasabak sa election. Kinakabahan po ako. Nalulungkot rin po ako sa panibagong magiging desisyon sa buhay ko po,” Go told reporters on Monday afternoon before he filed his certificate of candidacy.

“Medyo mapapalayo ako sa pangulo pero sisikapin ko po in my private capacity na tutulong pa rin po ako sa kanya. Nasa tabi pa rin niya ako.”

President Duterte shows support to SAP Bong Go, who filed his certificate of candidacy for the 2019 senatorial race at the Comelec headquarters, October 15, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Panelo said Duterte is looking for an assistant whom he can trust and be confident with.

Some Duterte-appointed officials in and out of Malacañang have effectively resigned as they try their luck in next year’s polls.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. will run for Bohol governor, while Go and former police and corrections bureau chief Ronald Dela Rosa will run for senator.

Another close Duterte ally, presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino, is also rumored to be gunning for a Senate seat in 2019.

Panelo said despite the departure of key administration officials, the services their respective offices render will not be affected.

“Even if there is no appointment yet, there are OICs in the departments,” he said.