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The Struggle Is Real: Bong Go Exits Presidential Race, Says Heart And Mind Not Into It

The Struggle Is Real: Bong Go Exits Presidential Race, Says Heart And Mind Not Into It
Sen. Bong Go speaks at an event in San Juan City on Nov. 30, 2021 after announcing his decision to withdraw from the 2022 presidential race. Photo by Michael Varcas, The Philippine STAR

Sen. Bong Go announced on Tuesday, Nov. 30, he is withdrawing from next year’s presidential race, supposedly in deference to the wishes of his family and to avoid putting his patron, President Duterte, in a bind.

Ayaw ko rin po lalong maipit si Pangulong Duterte. Higit pa po sa tatay ang pagmamahal ko po sa kanya (I don’t want to further put President Duterte in a fix. I love him more than a father),” he told reporters in an interview on the sidelines of the commemoration of Bonifacio Day in San Juan City.

“In the past few days po, I realized that my heart and mind are contradicting my own actions. Talagang nag-re-resist po ang aking katawanpuso at isipanTao lang po ako na nasasaktan at napapagod din (I am only human and I get hurt and tired as well),” Go said.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez noted Go has yet to file an application for withdrawal of candidacy.

“The Law Department currently has no authority to accept any filings, considering that (Tuesday) is a holiday. For withdrawal, yes, personal appearance is required,” Jimenez said in a Viber message.

Go said his family’s being against his presidential bid has weighed heavily on his decision.

Sa ngayon po ‘yun po ‘yung mga rason ko (At the moment, those were my reasons) that’s why I am withdrawing from the race,” he said.

“I am willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the good of our country and for the sake of unity among our supporters and leaders,” he added.

“Many times in our life, we are called upon to serve others but destiny has a way of turning things around. Just like the great Andres Bonifacio – the president who never was,” he said. “Bonifacio had every great opportunity to lead our country as our president after leading a revolutionary movement that started our quest for liberty. But destiny had something different for him.”

The PDP-Laban faction of energy chief Alfonso Cusi had originally picked Go as its vice presidential candidate. He announced on Nov. 13 that he would be running for president as a substitute for a candidate of a party called Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS) instead of PDP-Laban, which is still in a leadership row with the group of another presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquio and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

Asked who among the presidential candidates he would support, Go said it would definitely be the one supported by President Duterte.

Kung sino ‘yung suportahan niya bilang pangulo, ‘yun rin po ang aking susuportahan (Whoever he supports as president, I will support),” Go said.

Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is running for vice president in tandem with former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Go said his withdrawal from the presidential race would definitely not stop him from serving the people. He appealed to presidential aspirants to always put the people’s welfare first.

PDP-Laban meeting

PDP-Laban executive vice president and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said members of the party would meet to talk about Go’s decision.

“This is very new as far as PDP-Laban is concerned. I think PDP-Laban will have a series of meetings to discuss this and let’s wait for the statement to be issued by the PDP-Laban,” Nograles said at a briefing aired over state-run PTV.

Before Go announced his withdrawal, a group supporting Duterte-Carpio’s vice presidential bid called on the senator to be her running mate.

“Sen. Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go is the most qualified and competent person as steward to bring the Philippine country into lasting peace, greater prosperity, most livable and happy country to stay and do business,” the Inday Sara Movement 2022 said in a statement.

“He is the servant leader that we need badly at this moment in times of battle against pandemic and economic struggle,” the group said.

Astra Naik, PDP-Laban membership committee head, told “Sa Totoo Lang” on One PH on Tuesday night that they could understand the struggles of Go, who was their chosen standard-bearer from the beginning.

Naik expressed hope that Go would not abandon his partymates and listen to them though they know that it would be difficult to campaign and even if he wins, being president is a “very lonely job.”

Should Go decide to really drop his presidential bid, Naik said PDP-Laban would focus on its senatorial and local candidates being the biggest political party right now with the most number of candidates all over the country.

Naik believes whoever PDP-Laban will support for president and vice president will be as lucky as lotto bettors winning the jackpot.

Good luck

Other presidential aspirants said they respect Go’s decision and wished him luck.

Vice President Leni Robredo noted it is the right of Go to quit, but they are not focused on the moves of other presidential hopefuls.

Robredo told reporters during a visit in Masbate that what they have to do is clear to them and that she’s happy with her improvement in presidential surveys recently. She added this has been a cause for celebration in her camp as her numbers jumped significantly.

With Go’s withdrawal, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he won’t refuse help from anyone in his presidential bid – even from President Duterte in the form of an endorsement.

“Life goes on… If they choose me, then thank you in advance. But I do not want to preempt them until they say so. For the meantime, I’m always hopeful,” Moreno said.

Read More: Who Will Duterte Endorse As Successor? Bong Go Concedes He’s Not Ready, Drops Presidential Bid

Rep. Mike Aglipay of Diwa party-list said they “will always be thankful for the access he has given us congressmen these last five years and we wish him well in helping our country.” Aglipay chairs the House committee on good government.

Renato Reyes, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said Go’s decision to quit the presidential race is an attempt by the administration to avert the split of the Duterte-Marcos alliance in 2022.

Reyes said he won’t be surprised if Duterte ends up supporting Marcos despite his tirades against the son of former dictator Ferdinand Sr.

“Whatever the final outcome of their maneuvers, the people are more than ever resolved to stop a Marcos restoration and a Duterte extension,” he said in a statement. – With Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero, Robertzon Ramirez