BY ROGER M. BALANZA
President Rodrigo Duterte said his top aide Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go is already a “Senator” even before the 2019 mid-term elections.
“He is now already being called Senator. He has a lot of fans now,” said Duterte in jest of Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Go, during a speech in a large crowd of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in Hong Kong on April 13.
Senate President Koko Pimentel, chairman of Duterte’s ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) has listed Go among its potential senatorial candidates in next year’s mid-term election.
Duterte has encouraged Go, his special assistant for more than 20 years starting when the President was the mayor of Davao City, to take a crack at a Senate seat in the 2019 polls.
Duterte’s apparent campaign pitch for Go further fired up the loud applause that greeted the top presidential aide as he was introduced by the President to the crowd of about 2,500 Filipino workers in the gathering in Kowloon.
“Our favorite senator Bong Go,” Duterte said as he introduced Go.
“Without campaigning, he became Senator Bong Go. He is now already being called senator. He has a lot of fans now,” he said.
“If the people of Hong Kong will vote, he will surely win,” the President said also in jest.
Duterte visited Hong Kong after his participation at the 3-day Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, China.
He was joined by his China entourage including Go and presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Go’s name drew the loudest applause when Duterte introduced members of his contingent, indicating Filipinos in Hong Kong have joined the clamor for Go to run under the President’s 12-man senatorial ticket in the mid-term election.
Duterte said Go’s appearance in a Senate probe on the P18 Billion Navy frigate project propped up his top assistant’s popularity.
The probe stemmed from a report by online news site Rappler that Go “intervened” in the award of the purchase of two Navy ships to a Korean company.
Duterte said Go, who told the Senators that he could not have meddled in the award because it was already awarded during the Aquino administration, came out a “hero” in the probe.
Duterte said he told Go, after his appearance at the Senate where his top aide proved his innocence, that the investigation opened a political opportunity that Go should grab.
“I said, ‘Bong, this is gonna be your ticket to being senator. I’ve been into politics for so long. Once you harass a person and that person is really very good in the eyes of the public perception, you’re just making him hero,” the President narrated.
The President said Go could tread the same political path that he took in his journey to Malacanang, and with God’s help bag a Senate seat in 2019.
“My presidency was a God-given gift. It really came from God,” he told his Hong Kong crowd.