By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) maintained Tuesday that it did not violate any rules when former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) and now senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go attended an event at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Go served as a guest of honor and speaker during the launch of “Kabataan Kontra sa Droga at Terorismo” campaign at the PNP national headquarters on Monday, a day ahead of the official start of the campaign period Tuesday for the May 2019 midterm elections. He is running under the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP-Laban) and endorsed by Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
However, PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde reasoned out that Go appeared not as a candidate but as an honorary member of the Association of the Chiefs of Police of the Philippines, Incorporated (ACCPI), which was among the groups that launched the campaign.
“Una, hindi naman candidate ang punta ni SAP Bong Go dito kahapon. (First, SAP Bong Go did not go here yesterday as a candidate.) It’s his capacity as an honorary member of the ACPPI or the Association of Chiefs of Police of the Philippines, Incorporated okay?” Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
“At the same time, the campaign period has not started yet that time so I think we have not violated the provision or instruction of the President,” he added.
Albayalde was referring to President Duterte’s previous order to the military and police to stay neutral and avoid partisan politics.
“This election, strictly neutral tayong lahat (all of us). The Armed Forces, the police, and the uniformed personnel of government, I am asking you not to indulge in partisan politics,” Duterte said on October 15 during the command turnover ceremony of the Philippine Army in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
The Commander-in-Chief reiterated the directive last Friday, February 8, as he graced the Peace and Order Summit for barangay officials in Legazpi, Albay.
“I want the Armed Forces and the police to stay strictly neutral. Ang mga taga-gobyerno (Those in government), including the Cabinet secretaries, I have not allowed them to do some campaigning for or against anybody,” Duterte said.
But Albayalde said even Go, himself, made it clear that he is not in the event to campaign for himself.
“Hindi naman nagsabi na iboto siya and I think in his message sinabi niya na parang emisssary lang siya ng ating Presidente (He did not say [to the audience] to vote for him and I think in his message he just said he’s like an emissary of the President),” he stated.
The country’s top cop also believes that the appearance of Go at the police camp neither boosted nor harmed his campaign as a senatorial candidate.
“That depends on the voting population that depends on the members of the PNP. Remember wala kaming ineendorse dito (we are not endorsing anyone here) whatsoever so far ha? That will depend on the PNP lalo na ‘yong mga (especially the) registered voters. Remember, wala kaming sinasabi sa kanila na kung sino dapat iboto nila (we do not dictate them who to vote for),” Albayalde concluded.