Senator Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go on Saturday doused cold water to speculations that he is one of 2022 presidential hopefuls.
‘’Please count me out. It is too early to talk politics,” Go said during the Laging Handa public briefing on February 6. He, however, emphasized that he and President Duterte would rather focus on serving the Filipino people to overcome the (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Alam n’yo, karapatan po ng bawat Pilipino ang tumakbo. This is democracy. Karapatan po na tumakbo bilang Pangulo (It is the right of every Filipino to run for the elections. This is democracy. It is within their right to run for presidency),” said Go, referring to some personalities reportedly gunning for the post.
“Pero para sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte, ‘wag muna natin pag-usapan ang pulitika dahil nasa pandemya pa tayo. Importante malagpasan natin ang pandemyang ito. Baka wala na tayong pag-usapang pulitika ‘pag ‘di natin nalagpasan ang pandemyang ito (To me and President Duterte, we’d rather not talk about politics because we are still in a pandemic. It is important that we overcome this pandemic. We might not have elections to talk about if the pandemic is not contained),” he added.
As for proposals to defer the conduct of face-to-face campaigns, Go said that it is the mandate of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to decide on the matter.
He said the integrity of the elections is of utmost importance.
“Ako naman po, trabaho ng Comelec ‘yan. Mandato ng Comelec paano nila patakbuhin ang eleksyon. Importante po malinis na eleksyon at bigyan ng pagkakataon ang bawat Pilipino na makaboto (To me, that is the work of the Comelec. it is the mandate of the Comelec to run the elections. What is important is that the elections are credible and every qualified Filipino will be able to vote),” he said.
He also urged Comelec to always consider and prioritize the health of Filipinos while preparing for the conduct of the upcoming elections.
“Dapat po balansehin muna ng Comelec – lalo na pagdating sa kalusugan. Health first, buhay po muna ng Pilipino. Dapat sigurado silang protektado laban sa COVID-19 (Comelec must do a balancing act, particularly when it comes to health. Lives of Filipinos first. They should be protected from COVID-19),” he added.
Earlier, the executive department said that it is still too early to decide on the ban on face-to-face campaigning as the country still has not started its vaccination program.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the government must wait for results of the vaccination program before deciding on the proposed ban on face-to-face elections campaign.
Go concurred, saying, “Habang papalapit ng papalapit, may mga nadidiskubre naman tayo. Ito namang COVID-19, bago po ito, pinag-aaralan naman ng lahat. ‘Di lang ng gobyerno dito sa bansa, kasama na sa ibang bansa, pinag-aaralan nila habang tumatagal (As we approach the 2022 elections, there are many discoveries. This COVID-19 is being studied by all. The Philippine government has joined other countries in studying them).”
“So, titingnan ng Comelec ‘yan kung pwede na bang ituloy ‘yung face-to-face, so alam na po ng COMELEC ang trabaho n’ya. Importante malinis ang halalan, mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang bawat Pilipino na makaboto (Comelec will determine when a face-to-face campaign can be done. Comelec knows its job. What is important is that the elections are clean, giving the opportunities to all Filipinos to vote),” he said.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said face-to-face campaign activities for the upcoming 2022 elections might still be allowed, but health protocols must be observed.
Some lawmakers have suggested the conduct of physically distanced town hall meetings instead.
As for who he would vote for the president in the elections, Go said that he would choose the person who could continue the legacy of Duterte and bring the country towards full recovery from the pandemic.
“Para sa akin, kung sino po ‘yung unang-una makapagpatuloy po ng inumpisahang pagbabago ng ating mahal na Pangulong Duterte. Pangalawa, kung sino po ang makakadala sa ating bansa sa recovery, in our path towards full recovery. Napaka-importante po ito sa panahong ito, lalo na po bagsak ang ekonomiya (To me, the one who could continue with what President had started. Second is the one who could bring our country to recovery, in our path to full recovery),” Go said.
“Kung sino po makakapagserbisyo na talagang makakatulong sa bawat Pilipino na maka-recover ang ating bansa. Tapos sino ang taong totoong nagmamahal sa kanyang kapwa Pilipino (Whoever could serve and help every Filipino to help the country recover. Finally, the one who really loves his fellow countrymen,” he added.