Fifty-seven governors overseeing the majority of the 81 provinces in the country have already hitched their horses into Senator Christopher “Bong” Go’s bandwagon as he seeks the vice presidency in next year’s election.
In about a week, 16 more governors joined the original 41 from nearly all of the major political parties in vowing to push Go’s program of economic inclusivity and the continuity of the gains made under the six years of the Duterte administration.
In a manifesto, the governors said they have crossed party lines and vowed to “campaign tirelessly for Go’s election to the country’s second-highest elective position.”
On Thursday, the administration party PDP Laban said it is preparing to roll out its caravan to campaign for the tandem of Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa for president and Go for vice president.
PDP Laban secretary-general Melvin Matibag, however, said there is nothing wrong if the party decides to have a substitute candidate in place of De la Rosa on or before 15 November.
“The Comelec (Commission on Elections) resolution allows for substitution up to 15 November. That is a process that we have to respect and recognize,” Matibag said, adding that the issue would not have mattered had President Rodrigo Duterte not won in 2016 as a substitute candidate for PDP Laban.
The official was referring to Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code, which states that: “If after the last day for the filing of Certificates of Candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a Certificate of Candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.”
“It’s not a mockery of the elections law if the political parties use every available legal option, or time, for them to finally decide the candidates to field,” Matibag said of the resolution.
He said the Comelec resolution on substitution is a process that must be “respected and recognized.”
“Any political party can opt to utilize the rule on substitution as it is allowed by law. It is available to everyone without distinction. A mockery is when rules are not applied equally. And every party is entitled to employ its own political strategies,” he said.
“Just like the Liberal Party (LP) chairperson choosing to run as an independent candidate and changing her color from yellow to pink. In short, anyone in the political game may employ a strategy as long as it is within the bounds of the rules,” Matibag added.
Matibag was referring to Vice President Leni Robredo who has chosen to discard LP’s yellow in gunning for the presidency against Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, De la Rosa and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
But as for Go, PDP Laban has made it clear that he would be its vice-presidential bet following the withdrawal by President Rodrigo Duterte of his acceptance of the party’s nomination for VP.
In the country’s provinces, the governors have made it clear they are rooting for Go.
“As a long-time close aide to then Davao City mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Bong Go has gained wide and valuable insights on and has had to confront problems relating to both local and national governance,” the governors said.
“Such experience has prepared him adequately for elective public office — as senator and hopefully as vice president. Having come from the ranks of local public servants, we have no doubt that Bong Go understands the issues, we face 24/7 in our respective provinces,” they added.
They pointed out that in the short period of only more than two years that he has been a senator, Go has institutionalized the Malasakit Center, a project he and President Duterte started before the former presidential aide joined the Senate.
Go is the principal author of Republic Act 11463, or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, making healthcare more affordable and accessible to Filipinos.
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop-shop for medical and financial assistance that several government agencies allocate for the sick, who now have to go to just one office instead of laboriously seeking help from one agency to another.
There are now at least 143 Malasakit Centers in public hospitals throughout the country. These centers serve hundreds of sick poor Filipinos every day.
“If elected vice president, Bong Go promised to continue Duterte’s programs, particularly his campaign against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption. These are some of the problems we continue to face as local officials, despite the administration’s gains in stamping out such nefarious activities,” the governors said.
They also backed Go’s program to pursue the President’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program intended to hasten economic development and provide jobs and incomes to our people in the country.
The governors backing Go are as follows:
Governors Edwin Ong, Northern Samar; Michael Tan, Samar (Western); Dominic Petilla, Leyte; Damian Mercado, Southern Leyte; Roger Espina, Biliran; Dax Cua, Quirino; Jim Hataman Salliman, Basilan; Jose Alvarez, Palawan; Zaldy Villa — Siquijor; Imelda Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte; Edgar Tallado, Camarines Norte; Migz Villafuerte, Camarines Sur; Jose R. Riano, Romblon; Dale B. Corvera, Agusan del Norte; Jun Ebdane, Zambales; Bonz Dolor, Oriental Mindoro; Nancy Catamco, Province of Cotabato; Arthur Yap, Bohol; and Wilter Palma, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Also supporting Go are Governors Melchor Diclas, Benguet; Roberto Uy, Zamboanga del Norte; Oyie Umali Nueva Ecija; Gwen Garcia, Cebu; Noel Degamo, Negros Oriental; Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, Camiguin; Presbitero Velasco Jr., Marinduque; Gerardo Noveras, Aurora Province; Francisco Emmanuel “Pacoy” R. Ortega III; Maria Jocelyn Valera Bernos, Abra; Hermilando Mandanas, Batangas; Bonz Dolor, Oriental Mindoro; Al Francis Bichara, Albay; Jose Riano, Romblon; Joven Miraflores, Aklan; Ayik Pimentel, Surigao del Sur; Vic Yu, Zamboanga del Sur; Sakor Tan, Sulu; and Joseph Cua of Catanduanes.
Likewise backing Senator Go are Governors Bonifacio Lacwasan, Mt. Province; Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Apayao; Susan Yap, Tarlac; Rodito Albano III, Isabela; Amado Espino III, Pangasinan; Frank Matugas, Surigao del Norte; Bombit Alonto Adion Jr., Lanao del Sur; Manuel Mamba, Cagayan; Ramil Hernandez, Laguna; Phillip Tan, Misamis Occidental; Nini Ynares, Rizal; Malou Cayco, Batanes; Mariam Mangudadatu, Maguindanao; Suharto Mangudadatu, Sultan Kudarat; Esteban Contreras, Capiz; Bamwbi Emano, Misamis Oriental; Ferdinand Tubban, Kalinga; Danny Suarez, Quezon and Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar.