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Will Digong anoint new bet?

We will support the candidate who will continue the President’s programs

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech to commemorate the heroism of Gat Andres Bonifacio on the 158th anniversary of The Great Plebeian’s birth at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City. / Photograph by Yummie Dingding for the daily tribune @tribunephl_yumi

All eyes are now on President Rodrigo Duterte’s next step whether to pick another candidate after his longtime aide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, backed out of the May 2022 presidential race.

Go announced his decision on Tuesday during a chance interview with reporters, citing his family’s resistance to his presidential run and his supposed unpreparedness to seek the top government post.

“My family is against my bid. Maybe it’s not yet time.

I realized it in the past few days. I realized my heart and mind are contradicting my own actions. My body, heart, and mind are resisting,” Go said.

Go, Duterte’s special assistant for over two decades, enjoys the backing of the President.

The Philippine leader endorsed Go’s presidential bid in a recent public event. The two even appeared together in a television ad, in which Duterte instructed Go to continue with the administration’s programs.

The neophyte lawmaker also echoed the “continuity” pitch during his public engagements in an apparent effort to earn the support of business groups and other sectors who are satisfied with Duterte’s leadership.

 

No word yet

Duterte, at press time, has yet to publicly comment on Go’s decision to withdraw from the presidential race.

Go told reporters that the President had respected his decision. He also admitted that they haven’t discussed yet who the Chief Executive will endorse in 2022.

Despite this, he expressed confidence that Duterte will likely support a presidential aspirant who can continue the administration’s pet projects, including the campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption.

“We will support the candidate who will continue the President’s programs,” Go said.

Allies of the President had earlier said that Go’s withdrawal was imminent following a 24 November dinner with governors in Malacañang.

Duterte purportedly announced that night that he would not be supporting any presidential candidate in 2022 if Go backs out of the race.

He is not on good terms with leading presidential contenders, particularly with Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and former lawmaker Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The President previously hurled insults at Robredo for her criticisms of government policies, as well as at Pacquiao and Moreno, who expressed critical views on his governance ahead of the filing of candidacies.

Duterte also declared he would not support Marcos, adding that he was annoyed at the presidential aspirant for pressuring his eldest daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, to run for vice president even though she has been leading the presidential surveys. He even went as far as calling Marcos a “spoiled” and “weak” leader.

 

What happens to PDP Laban?

Go’s unprecedented decision leaves the ruling PDP Laban without an official candidate in the 2022 elections — a democratic process deemed crucial in determining the government’s direction for the next six years as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

If Go formally pushes through with his withdrawal, no other PDP Laban member can substitute since the period for substitution had already lapsed last 15 November.

PDP Laban national president Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the party respects and supports the lawmaker’s decision.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also executive vice president of the ruling party, said PDP Laban officials and members will convene soon to discuss the developments.

“As far as PDP Laban is concerned, there’ll be a series of meetings about this,” Nograles said. “Let’s just wait for the PDP Laban’s statement on this matter.”

Go was supposed to pursue the vice presidency, but he opted to join the presidential race to avert a possible clash with Duterte-Carpio in the No. 2 post.

Duterte-Carpio is running in tandem with Marcos, the son and namesake of the late plunderer-dictator who was toppled in a 1986 uprising.

Prior to Go’s withdrawal from the presidential race, observers have said that a Go versus Marcos-Duterte in 2022 may split the administration’s base, which is banking on the President’s popularity and record-high trust ratings.

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