Senator Bong Go withdraws from presidential race

President Rodrigo Roa 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 November 13, 2021. ROBINSON NIÑAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 November) – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go withdrew his candidacy for president on Tuesday.

In a statement, Go said he decided to back out from the race as his family is against his decision to run for the highest position.

“Having said this, I leave my fate to God and to the Filipino people as I vow to do my best every day to serve selflessly and tirelessly. I am willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the good of the country and for the sake of unity among our supporters and leaders,” he said.

He told the other presidential candidates to put the welfare and interest of the Filipino people first.

Go was accompanied by President Rodrigo R. Duterte when he withdrew his candidacy for vice president and subsequently filed his candidacy for president last November 13 under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan.

On the same day, Mayor Sara Duterte withdrew her candidacy for mayor and subsequently filed her candidacy for vice president under Lakas-CMD.

Many supporters were hoping for a Go-Sara Duterte tandem for the May 2022 elections, but the President’s daughter chose Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., as her running mate.

“In the past few days, I realized that my heart and my mind are contradicting my actions. My body, heart, and mind are resisting. I’m just a man who gets hurt and tired,” Go said.

Go added he does not want to be a burden to President Duterte who “has done a lot for the country.”

“President Duterte is more than a father to me. He’s old and has done a lot for this country. I don’t want to add to his problems. I remain faithful to him and I promise to stay by his side forever,” he said.

The withdrawal of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go from the presidential race was not unexpected in the political playbook of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, which would benefit the Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem for next year’s national elections, a lawmaker said.

In a statement on Tuesday, House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate believed that Go was used by President Duterte as a leverage “to gain concessions — protection especially when his term ends — from the camp of Marcos Jr., especially now that he is already considered as a lameduck president.”

“The withdrawal will possibly benefit and further consolidate the Marcos and Duterte (MaD) alliance,” he said.

Zarate called on the “growing and broad democratic forces, including the political opposition,” to “stop and prevent a dictatorannical regime from becoming real.”

Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, another presidential candidate, refused to comment on Go’s decision [to withdraw his candidacy].

“I received a report about it pero hindi muna ako mag comment. Hindi pa ako naka receive ng confirmation,” Pacquiao told reporters at the City Hall of Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur on Tuesday afternoon.

He said what’s important for him unity among the people, adding he will continue giving aid to the poor.

On his 5th day in Caraga Region, Pacquiao had visited four of its five provinces, shelling out around 10 million pesos in cash to at least 10,000 individuals.

He gave rice, chickens and t-shirts to the same number of people.

“I have received blessings and I’m sharing it with you,” Pacquiao, speaking in the vernacular, told an estimated crowd of 3,000 individuals at the basketball court in Barangay Maygatasan in Bayugan City.

Physical distancing was not observed during the distribution of cash and goodies.

Pacquiao visited the towns of Dapa, Del Carmen, and General Luna in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte; San Francisco town in Agusan del Sur; and the cities such of Bislig, Tandag, Surigao, Cabadbaran, Butuan, and Bayugan.

He vowed to eradicate corruption, create more job opportunities in the countryside, provide free housing to poor families and free hospitalization to senior citizens.

After Caraga, the senator and his entourage will return to General Santos City, his bailiwick, to give assistance to fire victims. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews with a report from Roel Catoto)