Duterte asks Bong Go after withdrawal pronouncement: Will you or won’t you run?

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2021 08:41 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte via Presidential Photo/File 
President Rodrigo Duterte raises the hand of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who filed his certificate of candidacy for president after withdrawing his certificate of candidacy for vice president before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at the Comelec in Intramuros, Manila on Nov. 13, 2021. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo/File 

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday asked his longtime aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go on the latter's 2022 election plans, even as he said he respected the lawmaker's announcement that he is withdrawing from the presidential race. 

Go, whose term as senator ends only in 2025, said Tuesday he would no longer vie to replace Duterte in the May polls. But he has yet to formally withdraw his candidacy. 

"Ano ba talaga, Bong? Tatakbo ka o hindi?" Duterte asked Go during a meeting of the anti-insurgency task force in Zamboanga City.

(What is it really, Bong? Will you run or won't you?)

"Off the cuff, you have made a lot of people sad than happy. We respect your decision lalo na kung pamilya, wala na tayong magawa d'yan," the President added. 

(We respect your decision, especially if it involves the family, we can't do anything about that.) 

Go on Tuesday said his family did not want him to run for president and admitted he also does not personally aspire for the position.

He added that he was removing himself from the presidential race because he did not want the President to be "trapped in the middle." 

The President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is running for vice president in tandem with a different contender, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. 

Duterte earlier branded Marcos as a "weak leader," while praising his longtime aide Go as "honest" and hard-working. He categorically said he is not supporting Marcos' presidential bid in an interview last Nov. 14.

Political observers say Go's withdrawal from the race would likely benefit the Marcos/Duterte-Carpio ticket as it would consolidate the Dutertes' voter base behind the 43-year-old mayor and that support could extend to Marcos.

"There is no more confusion in terms of administration support," said Aries Arugay, visiting fellow at the ISEAS Yusof-Ishak Institute and political science professor at the University of the Philippines.

Marcos is up against other presidential aspirants, including former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson. 

Marcos is facing several disqualification cases grounded on a nearly 3-decade old conviction for tax evasion. 

— With a report from Reuters

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