Bong Go formally withdraws candidacy for 2022 presidential elections

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2021 11:21 AM | Updated as of Dec 14 2021 09:32 PM

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go speaks to members of the press after withdrawing his candidacy for the 2022 national election at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila on December 14, 2021. Mores Heramis, ABS-CBN News
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go speaks to members of the press after withdrawing his candidacy for the 2022 national election at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila on December 14, 2021. Mores Heramis, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte's preferred successor Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go formalized on Tuesday his withdrawal from the 2022 elections. 

Go personally went to the Commission on Elections main office in Manila to withdraw his candidacy for president. 

"As a matter of principle, wala na po ako sa karerang ito, sa pagtakbo bilang pangulo sa 2022," he said in a chance interview. 

(I am out of this race for the presidency in 2022.)

The senators, whose term ends in 2025, said in late November he is dropping out of the race because he does not want Duterte 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 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.

 

"Naaawa po ako kay Pangulong Duterte, matanda na po siya. Ayoko na po siyang pahirapan," Go had said. 

(I take pity on President Duterte, he is already old. I do not want him to suffer.)

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

He 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. Most of them have also been the subject of Duterte's tirades. 

The President's party PDP-Laban "will endorse whoever will align with the policies of the Duterte Administration and will continue the agenda of change that remain popular because these are being felt by the masses," said secretary general Melvin Matibag. 

These agenda include curbing narcotics, criminality, corruption, and terrorism, as well as socio-economic and infrastructure programs for recovery from the pandemic, he said in a message to reporters. 

Go initially filed a candidacy for vice president under the PDP-Laban (Cusi wing), in tandem with Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa who is the party's presidential bet. But both withdrew their candidacies after Duterte-Carpio joined the vice presidential race as a substitute under the Lakas-CMD party.

Duterte-Carpio, who was rumored to be at odds with Go, issued a short statement regarding his withdrawal from the race.

"The filing of candidacy and withdrawal is a personal decision. We can only support that decision," she said.

Other presidential candidates weigh in

Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso wished Go well.

“I hope he will find peace,” Domagoso told reporters on the sidelines of his “listening tour” in San Joaquin, Iloilo. 

“I hope makita ni Sen. Bong ang kaniyang sarili dahil mahirap na desisyon 'yun. Malaking sakripisyo 'yun sa kaniya,” the Manila Mayor said.

(I hope Sen. Bong will find himself because that is a hard decision to make. It is a big sacrifice on his part.)

Domagoso said going around the country to campaign and urge voters to back a candidacy may take a toll on aspirants.

“Hindi ko kasi alam kung ano ang pinaghuhugutan ni Sen. Bong Go. But it’s really hard because in a campaign, you will be psychologically, emotionally and physically challenged,” he said.

(I don't know where Sen. Bong Go is coming from. But it’s really hard because in a campaign, you will be psychologically, emotionally and physically challenged.)

“Outside things may affect also your situation, mas makakapagpabigat 'yun (that can make things harder),” he said.

Meanwhile, presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman said Go's withdrawal from the race, which means the absence of an official administration bet, marks the the unification of "the most reactionary political faction in the country." 

"Ito'y naglalayon kay Duterte na maiwasan ang asuntong isasampa laban sa kanya [sa] pagkatapos ng kanyang termino at i-secure ang kayamanan at pampulitikang kapangyarihan sa loob ng nakalipas na halos anim na taon niyang panunungkulan. Ito ang ibig sabihin ng pag-atras ni Bong Go." 

(For Duterte, this means being able to dodge charges to be filed against him after his term, and to secure wealth and political power he has amassed in the last six years of his term. This is what Go's withdrawal means.) 

PROMDI presidential bet Sen. Manny Pacquiao said he respects Go's decision to withdraw from the presidential race. 

"Respetuhin natin ang desisyon niya dahil may karapatan naman siya na gawin kung ano ang sa tingin niya ay makakabuti sa kanya, " Pacquiao said.

(Let us respect his decision because he has the right to decide what's best for him.)

When asked if the development will affect his candidacy, Pacquiao said he feels it will solidify the Mindanaoan support.

"Siyempre, tayo na lang ang natatanging Mindanaoan at Bisaya na tumatakbo bilang presidente. Kanino pa ba susuporta ang mga taga-Mindanao at mga Bisaya kundi 'yung kagaya rin nila?" said Pacquiao, who has a residence in General Santos City and once served as congressional Representative of Sarangani province.

(Of course, I'm the only Mindanaoan and Bisaya left in the presidential race. Who else will the Mindanaoans and Bisaya support but someone who is like them?)

— With reports from Joyce Balancio, Katrina Domingo, Dennis Gasgonia and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters

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