Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s chosen successor is out of the game.
Longtime Duterte aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on November 30 announced his withdrawal from the presidential race.
This leaves the field to major contenders Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.
Marcos is running with Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio as vice presidential candidate.
On November 26, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said he had the impression that Go would withdraw his candidacy after a Malacañang meeting with governors.
Mamba said that Go supposedly cried during the meeting.
Go supposed said, “Hindi ko pa panahon (It’s not yet my time).”
Mamba said Duterte told the governors that he would remain neutral and not support the presidential aspirants if Go decided to withdraw his candidacy.
Duterte earlier said that he wanted his daughter Duterte-Carpio to run for president.
“Magneutral na lang ako. I’ll just keep quiet. Hindi ako nag-agree sa decision ni Sara but she is my daughter, obligado ako mahalin siya,” said Duterte, according to Mamba.
(I’ll just be neutral. I’ll just keep quiet. I don’t agree with Sara’s decision, but she is my daughter, and I am obligated to love her.)
Robredo, who is currently Vice President of the Philippines, said that it was Go’s right to withdraw his candidacy for president in the 2022 national elections.
“Karapatan niya naman iyon. Karapatan niyang magdesisyon kung ayaw niya nang ituloy iyong kanyang candidacy,” Robredo told reporters.
(That is his right. He has the right to decide if he does not want to pursue his candidacy.)
Meanwhile, senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares said that Go’s withdrawal is a “desperate Machiavellian attempt” to salvage the “crumbling” Duterte-Marcos alliance.
“It was clear from the start that he had very little chance to win and that the President was just using him as leverage to get as many concessions as possible from Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” Colmenares said about Go.
Colmenares said that Duterte has groomed Go “to be his shield from criminal prosecution after his term.”
“Even if Duterte does not admit it, he is afraid of the International Criminal Court and the reality that he could become the first Asian to be convicted and jailed for Crimes against Humanity,” Colmenares said.
“But with Duterte’s daughter already hitching up with Marcos for 2022, Go was reduced to a bargaining chip for his boss,” he added.
In announcing his withdrawal, Go said that his family was against his move to run for the next president of the Philippines in the May 9, 2022 election.
“Ayaw rin talaga ng aking pamilya kaya naisip ko na siguro ay hindi ko pa panahon sa ngayon. Diyos lang ang nakakaalam kung kailan ang tamang panahon. Ayaw ko ring maipit si Pangulong Duterte, higit pa sa tatay ang pagmamahal ko sa kanya. Matanda na po siya at marami na rin siyang naibigay para sa bayan, ayaw ko na pong dagdagan pa ang kanyang problema. Nananatili akong tapat sa kanya at nangako akong sasamahan ko po siya habambuhay. ‘Yun po ang pinangako ko sa kanya noon pa man,” Go said.
(My family really doesn’t like me joining the presidential race and that made think that it is not yet the right time for me. Only God knows when that time will be. I do not also want to give President Rodrigo Duterte a headache because he is more than a father to me. He is already old and he has already given so much for the country, I do not want to give him more problems. I am loyal to him and I promised him that I will stay with him for life. That is my commitment to him.)
“In the past few days I realized that my heart and my mind are contradicting my action. Talagang nagre-resist po ang aking katawan, puso at isipan. Tao lang po ako na nasasaktan at napapagod. Sa ngayon po yun ang mga rason ko, that is why I am withdrawing from the race”
(My body, heart and mind are resisting it. I am just human that feels pain and fatigue. For now, those are my reasons why I am withdrawing from the race),” the senator added.
“I leave my fate to God and to the Filipino people as I vow to do my best everyday to serve selflessly and tirelessly. I am willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the good of our country and for the sake of unity among our supporters. Sa mga nagnanais maging pangulo at iba pang gustong magsilbi sa bayan, sana po ay unahin nyo ang kapakanan at interes ng mga Pilipino.”
(To those who wish to become the president and others who want to serve the country, I hope that you will prioritize the welfare and interest of the Filipinos),” Go said.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, president of the PDP-Laban of Duterte, said that the party respects and supports the decision of Go.
Go filed his certificate of candidacy (CoC) for president not under the PDP-Laban but under its ally party, the Pederalismo ng Dugong Samahan party, substituting for Grepor Belgica, who was earlier fielded by the PDDS as its candidate for President.
Go first filed a CoC for Vice President under the PDP-Laban (Cusi wing) party but withdrew it on November 13 and filed a CoC for President under the PDDS.
He said then he decided to run for President to avoid being pitted against Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the President’s daughter.
Lacson said that he would not seek endorsement from the ruling PDP-Laban now that Go has withdrawn.
Lacson, Partido Reporma chairman, is running for president in next year’s national elections with long-time ally, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd, Nationalist People’s Coalition chairman, as his running mate.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd said that Pacquiao will definitely finish the electoral bout.
Pimentel and Pacquiao belong to the other faction of the divided PDP-Laban.
Go, the long-time aide of the President, still has three years left on his six-year Senate term.
Meanwhile, Marcos has been topping surveys for next president.
Marcos, a former senator, secured 47 percent of support in a survey conducted by local pollster Social Weather Stations from October 20 to October 23.
Marcos was followed by Robredo, 18 percent; Moreno, 13 percent; Pacquiao, nine percent; and Lacson, five percent.
Marcos is facing multiple disqualification cases related to a tax offense in the 90s, but the Marcos camp has branded these petitions, filed by victims of his father’s military rule, as a “nuisance.”
Duterte HAD publicly attacked Marcos, calling him a “weak leader” and “spoiled child” in speech where he also accused an unnamed presidential candidate of using cocaine.
Marcos said he did not feel alluded to and has since showed a negative cocaine test.