Key administration officials met in Malacañang on the night of February 25 to discuss the team-up of President Duterte and his trusted aide Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go for the next 2022 elections, according to the Daily Tribune which quoted an unnamed senior Palace official for this story.
Such preparations for the 2022 national elections, which of course set Go as standard bearer of the ruling PDP-Laban party and Duterte (who is barred by law to run for reelection) as his running mate, took place while government grappled with the problem of acquiring Covid vaccines and a deadly mall shoot-out between police and anti-drugs operatives in broad daylight on Wednesday, leaving four persons dead.
Go neither denied nor confirmed his attendance in the event purportedly attended by select Cabinet officials and other figures who are expected to play key roles in the Go-Duterte tandem.
In a phone call, Go supposedly asked to be quoted telling the public to count him out from politics, saying he is focused on aiding the government in its pandemic response.
“Count me out from politics. We are in the middle of a pandemic,” Go said. “Let’s focus on the vaccination,” added Go, who is regularly given premium coverage and exposure by state media broadcasts during the pandemic.
“We can’t talk about politics if we can’t overcome this pandemic,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque also distanced himself from the said meeting in Malacañang, noting that he was in Negros Oriental on Wednesday where he held his press conference.
The Tribune noted that Duterte endorsed the possible presidential bid of Go in the 2022 national polls during an appearance in typhoon-hit Surigao del Sur last week.
“(Go) is my president,” Duterte told the crowd of local officials in Surigao.
Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo confirmed that the Philippine leader’s choice for his successor is narrowed down between Go and presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio despite his insistence that he does not want his daughter to assume the government’s top post.
Panelo assured the continuity of the President’s programs such as the campaign against drugs, criminality, and terrorism, should either Go or Sara would be picked as the standard bearer of the administration.
Sara recently swore that she is not interested in seeking the top government post, even as she topped a survey by the research firm OCTA for potential successors of her father.
“The Run Sara Run Movement has already started and it is really surprising that many are now calling for Mayor Sara to run as president in the 2022 elections,” Panelo said.
“But the people have another choice. Here comes Sen. Go. At least we have two choices. If Mayor Sara’s decision that she will not run will not change, we still have another option,” Panelo added.
Panelo also expressed confidence that a Duterte-Duterte-Carpio or Go-Duterte-Carpio tandem will be a sure winner in the 2022 polls.
“The next vice-president who is now the president can provide guidance to either Sara or Go once the tandem pushes through,” he said.
Panelo also said the opposition should not belittle Go’s winnability, saying he was ranked third in the senatorial elections in 2019.
“During the last elections, many doubted his capability as critics said he only served as aide of the President. As you can see, from only number 24 in the surveys, he landed in number three spot and almost became number one in the senatorial elections,” Panelo noted.