US Embassy 'omits' Sen. Go in press release on vaccine delivery

Published August 8, 2021, 1:27 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The United States Embassy has omitted from its official press release the name of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go from among the top Philippine officials who attended the ceremony to welcome the arrival of more than three million doses of US-donated Moderna vaccine in Manila on August 3, 2021

A check at the US Embassy’s press release issued on the evening of August 3 showed there was no mention of Go’s name even in the accompanying photo where the senator from Davao City was clearly seen standing right beside US Embassy Charge d’Affaires John Law, along with President Duterte and other cabinet secretaries during the event held at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

On the second paragraph of the press release, the US Embassy acknowledged the presence of the following attendees in the ceremony sans Senator Go: President Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, IATF Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and “other stakeholders.”

“Because of the number of officials that attended, we named only the President and Cabinet Secretaries in the PR,” an official from the US Embassy’s Public Affairs office told the Manila Bulletin in a message.

Elected as senator in 2019 election, Go is known as one of the most influential figures within the President’s circle and is often seen with Duterte in almost all presidential activities. Last week, the ruling party PDP-Laban has endorsed Go to run for president in the 2022 presidential race with Duterte as his potential running mate.

Go, however, has yet to officially accept the nomination.

In January 2020, the US Embassy was caught in the middle of a political firestorm when Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, another close ally of President Duterte, confirmed that the US Embassy cancelled his US visa.

Dela Rosa served as the first chief of the Philippine National Police under Duterte and headed the administration’s bloody war-on-drugs campaign that resulted to the death of more than 6,000 people, according to government estimates.

As an offshoot of Dela Rosa’s US visa cancellation, President Duterte ordered the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the United States and the Philippines in February 2020.

After nearly one and a half years of negotiation, the VFA was eventually reinstated during last month’s visit of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III.

The Philippines is the US’ oldest security ally in Southeast Asia and one of its five treaty allies in the Pacific region.