Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has rejected claims that he is merely a placeholder candidate for the real vice-presidential bet of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban).
As speculations on possible substitution in the party’s standard-bearers in the 2022 national elections remained high, the lawmaker said he is well-decided to vie for the country’s second-highest post as he vowed to push for the continuity of the programs of the Duterte administration under his watch.
“I can’t speak for the other candidates. I can’t also speak for the decision of the party but as far as I’m concerned, I am well-decided in the position I am running for,” the Senator said during the launch of the 143rd Malasakit Center on Maria D. Tan Memorial Hospital in Tangub City, Misamis Occidental on Tuesday.
“My candidacy was a decision of the party and President Duterte. I was asked to run because we need someone to lead and continue the advocacy of PDP Laban and the whole administration,” he added.
Go’s vice-presidential bid came to a surprise to many after he was nominated as the presidential candidate of PDP Laban in the next year’s elections alongside President Duterte — a nomination the Senator had repeatedly rejected.
The Chief Executive accepted the endorsement but later changed his mind to retire from politics.
Go, having served as the closest aide of the President before his stint as a lawmaker, said Duterte’s retirement prompted him to take the challenge to join the vice-presidential race.
He would now run in the 2022 May Elections with Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa as his presidential running-mate.
“What’s important for me is to continue the programs President Duterte has started and to add more projects that would spur economic recovery amid the ill-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Their unprecedented candidacies sparked rumors of substitution with De la Rosa widely seen as a placeholder candidate for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
National candidates may still be substituted until 15 November in case of death, withdrawal, or disqualification during final judgment.
President Duterte replaced Martin Diño as the PDP Laban’s standard-bearer in 2016.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also on Wednesday slammed political parties for allegedly fielding placeholders in elective positions for the 2022 elections.
“This kind of practice is a mockery of the election system and is a way of fooling the electorate,” Zarate said.
“If you are going to run in the election, you should study it carefully and think about it. It’s not like you were just pulled there for someone to replace you. This is an insult to the voters and makes the election look ridiculous,” he added.
Zarate said those who filed Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) but only did so to temporarily fill the elective positions must be punished for “election atrocity”.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, however, said a “mere declaration” that the candidates were indeed placeholders will not be “sufficient to overcome the intention to run which is manifested in the verified CoC”.
He said the “lack of a bona fide intention to run” must be proven before the alleged placeholders are considered a nuisance.
Jimenez’s statement came after Lakas-CMD secretary-general and Surigao del Sur 1st district Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay admitted that the party needed to field candidates for president and vice president but still keeps the door open for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s possible candidacy.
Pichay was previously reported to have admitted to reporters that Lakas-CMD fielded mere placeholders for Duterte-Carpio but he later denied making such statements.
with Michelle Guillang and Gab Humilde Villegas