BONG Go, the special assistant to the President (SAP) and now a senatorial candidate, recently landed in the 5-6 slot in the SWS survey which made him the subject of unkind and cruel vilification aimed at dislodging him from the lead and picture him as nothing but a photo-bomber.
The vicious attacks made the rounds in the social media, very well-crafted but quite myopic and patently bias given the fact that in the front-runners are incumbents and within the magic circle of 12 are political characters with pedigree and sterling educational backgrounds but whose records in public service are either tainted with graft and indifference to the plight of the poor.
I have known this man up close like I do his boss.
The former SAP has carved his niche under the sun. He has the unique opportunity to be under the tutelage of a political leader who, like him, came from the farthest end of the country where winning a national post is once considered a fantasy.
Bong Go’s malefactors suffer from the mindset that only those from Imperial Manila or movie actors can win and while the boxing icon Manny Pacquiao made it to the Senate, they believe the saying that lightning does not strike the same place twice. (Of course it can happen minutes after the first strike or many years later.)
Undergoing tutorship in the arts of politics for 25 years now is like starting in basic kindergarten to an earning a master’s degree. And there are volumes of unwritten lessons Bong had imbibed from his boss. Isn’t it that Duterte radically altered the diplomatic language in dealing with leaders of the super powers and the art of handling foreign affairs?
Wasn’t his boss responsible for making Davao City among the livable places in Asia, the most competitive city in the country, most child-friendly and has the distinction of having a sustained economic growth of 9% as against the national average of 6%+?
His critics begrudge him for being always within the shadows of the most trusted and popular President this country ever had. He had actually cut his political umbilical cord from President Duterte but I know he still makes himself available within his beck and call.
Most of the time now Bong is on his own. He is reaping the fruits of being with the President for over two decades having friends and supporters in all nooks and corners of the archipelago. It matters most too that Bong Go is the chief implementer of the social outreach program of the President before. He was and is never associated with the rich and famous but I have seen him being embraced by people he had extended help: fire and flood victims; the sick; the needy; and the hungry.
He was the one in charge of the “Lingap” program of Davao City which is the precursor of “Malasakit Centers,” which he too established all over the country.
Bong Go knows where his strength will come from - the huge mass base of the social pyramid. He does not speak of big promises. A Senator Bong Go? Some critics asked with a smirk on their faces forgetting that the presidential assistant has demonstrated what he is capable of doing.
He might not be aware of what he has done, on his own and for his boss, but those who responded positively on surveys have eloquently expressed their choice for Bong.
Beyond this legendary photo-bomber and a three-pointer basketball player is a public servant that had gone around the country more often than the past, present and, by the looks of them, future senators. He has gone to places where the present crops of legislators fear to tread – the slums, the camps of secessionist fronts and the mountain lairs of the New Peoples’ Army. He knows exactly what legislations to craft and I can guess: health care benefits, welfare for the OFWs, irrigations for the farmers, land and housing for the rebel returnees, food security and more benefits for the senior citizens like me.
Nothing grandiose but everything doable, and because these are aimed at alleviating the condition of the poor and the middle class with simple needs you can be certain, as President Duterte has guaranteed, this senatorial bet will deliver.
As often said of him, “ang tanging bisyo ni Bong Go ay serbisyo.” You can never put this good and simple man down. Sen. Bong Go? And why not?