Bong Go is not a modern-day Andres Bonifacio

When he announced that he was withdrawing from the 2022 presidential race, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go somehow likened himself to Andres Bonifacio whom he described as “the president who never was.”

Just because he made the unsurprising announcement on the commemoration of the revolutionary leader’s 158th birthday, Nov. 30, doesn’t make him a modern-day Andres Bonifacio.

By backing out of the race, President Rodrigo Duterte’s longtime and most trusted aide said he was “willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the good of the country and for the sake of unity among our supporters and leaders.”

“Many times in our life, we are called upon to serve others but destiny has a way of turning things around, just like the great Andres Bonifacio, the president who never was,” he said, adding: “Bonifacio had every great opportunity to lead our country as our president after leading a revolution movement that started our quest for liberty, but destiny had something different from him.”

There is no point of comparison, really, by any measure. Perhaps, Go simply wanted to make himself relevant by mentioning Bonifacio because he announced his decision to quit the race on the birth anniversary of the revolutionary hero.

Two weeks since then, Go has not returned to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to officially withdraw his certificate of candidacy.

Last Friday, Dec. 10, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Go was taking his time for his supporters to understand why he will no longer seek the presidency in the upcoming elections.

“Bakit ba tayo nagmamadali? Bakit tayo nagmamadali? Sinong nagmamadali? Iilan lang po ang nagmamadali. Pero mas importante rin po sa akin ipa-intindi muna ‘yong mga nagdurugo mga puso, ‘yong mga nagpagod na po, eh kandidato na rin po ako as vice president,” the report quoted Go as telling reporters.

(Why are we in a rush? Why the rush? Who’s rushing? Only a few are rushing. It is more important for me to explain to those whose hearts are bleeding, those who have spent time [since] I was a candidate for vice president, [why I am withdrawing].)

Was it really the reason for the delay in officially withdrawing his CoC (certificate of candidacy)? Isn’t he hoping that the Comelec would either cancel the CoC or disqualify former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. from the race so that Duterte’s wish for a Bong Go-Sara Duterte tandem would become a reality?

Initially, the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan had groomed Go as its standard-bearer, with President Duterte as his vice-presidential running mate. But on Oct. 2, he filed for vice president while Duterte announced his retirement from politics in view of a survey result that showed many Filipinos were opposed to his candidacy because it would be violating the spirit of the Constitution, which sets a one-term limit for president.

Duterte’s move fueled speculations that he was paving the way for his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, to agree to run for president, with Go as vice president.

Negotiations between the camps of the Duterte father and daughter apparently bogged down. Accompanied by the president, Go returned to the Comelec and withdrew his CoC for vice president and went back two weeks later to file another CoC, this time for president.

Go’s decisions to file for vice president (VP), withdraw his VP bid and then run for president appeared to have been all made in haste. What’s really keeping him now from going back to the Comelec to officially withdraw his CoC for president? Until he does that, he is still on the official list of contenders for the country’s No. 1 post.

Even if he loses in the elections, he can still go back to the Senate to finish the second half of his six-year term. He must also be praying hard for President Duterte to win a Senate seat so they can work together again.

With Go’s dizzying political moves lately, it has become difficult to believe what comes out of his mouth. He does not sound convincing at all when he says it was never his ambition to become president and that all he wanted to do was to serve the people.

But when reporters asked him questions about his plans and his stand on some issues, he always deferred to what his master, the president, would tell him to do. Go has made himself a puppet, which Duterte can turn on and off anytime he wishes to.

Go’s loyalty to Duterte is unquestionable. Perhaps that’s the reason why Duterte would rather support Go over his own daughter who has been trying to prove her independence from her father.

Until Go withdraws his CoC for president at the Comelec, the rumor mill will keep grinding that the political drama of the Dutertes is far from over.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.
This column also appeared in The Manila Times.