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It’s Bong Go or nothing

‘At this point, we’re not thinking about it (endorsing another candidate) yet,’ he told reporters in a news conference

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Supporters of Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go hold a press conference in Barangay Valencia, Quezon City to convince him to proceed with his presidential bid. Go has announced his decision to withdraw his candidacy in next year’s national elections. (Analy Labor)

For supporters of Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, his presidential bid is not yet a lost cause.

Various groups on Saturday called on Go to reconsider his decision to pull out of the May 2022 race, citing the need to continue President Rodrigo Duterte’s programs.

Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS), an administration party that fielded Go as its standard-bearer, said it would continue to convince Go to push through with his candidacy, adding that it is not considering the possibility of endorsing another Palace contender.

“Despite Senator Bong’s withdrawal from the presidential race, the PDDS’ support for him and President Duterte is unwavering,” said senatorial aspirant Greco Belgica, who serves as party chairperson.

“At this point, we’re not thinking about it (endorsing another candidate) yet,” he told reporters in a news conference. “Our plan is Plan A all the way.”

Belgica added that the party continues to pray that Go would aim for Malacañang, claiming that the lawmaker is the best person to continue the President’s pet projects, particularly the campaign against illegal drugs, corruption and terrorism.

“We pray to God that the senator will push through with his candidacy for the welfare of Filipinos,” he said.

Albert de la Cruz of “Let’s Go Bong Go” Coalition, meanwhile, vowed that his group would continue campaigning for the neophyte lawmaker across the country.

“We will keep hoping, until the last second, that Kuya Bong Go will not withdraw. We will work hard in all four corners of the Philippines to make him win,” he said.

Also among Go’s supporters is actress Vivian Velez, who appealed to the President to encourage Go to push through with his election run.

“We will continue to pray for Senator Bong Go to reconsider his earlier decision not to run,” said Velez, who is part of the Go-Sara Du30 Coalition which has also been campaigning for the vice-presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

The 76-year-old President on Thursday said he respects the decision of his trusted confidante to withdraw from the 2022 race, but said it made a “lot of people sad.”

Duterte made no mention of whether he would ask Go to pursue his candidacy.

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

The two even appeared together in a television advertisement, in which Duterte instructed Go to continue the administration’s programs.

The neophyte lawmaker also cited the need for “continuity” 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 Comelec appearance yet

Despite his announcement on backing out, the senator has yet to personally appear before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to formalize his decision.

James Jimenez, spokesperson of the poll body, earlier said that Go remains in the running as he had not given official notice to the commission that he was pulling out.

If Go formally pushes through with his withdrawal, he would leave the administration without a homegrown standard bearer in 2022.

No other PDP Laban or PDDS member may take his place since the period for substitution had already lapsed last 15 November.

Last Tuesday — just 17 days after filing his candidacy — Go announced that he would no longer run for president due to his family’s resistance and to his supposed unpreparedness to seek the top government post.

Go added he did not want Duterte to be “trapped” in a difficult situation, which he did not explicitly say.

He was likely referring to Duterte-Carpio’s choice to pursue the vice presidency in tandem with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

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.

Go initially set his sights on the vice presidency under the PDP Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, but he opted to run for president under PDDS to avert a clash with Duterte-Carpio, who filed her candidacy for the No. 2 post under Lakas-CMD.

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