I HAVE covered the political career of Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte since the first day he stepped into the political arena as an appointed Vice Mayor of Davao City. For us community journalists whose beat is City Hall we get real close to whoever sits as Mayor, his department heads and personal staff. We know them like the back of our hands.
Talking of Department heads they all come and go depending who sits there as Mayor and this is true between Mayors Rodrigo and daughter Inday Sara. An exception to this is Christopher Go for his engagement as personal assistant with the former persists to date. This intimacy lasts because "Bong", which he prefers to be called, is trustworthy and unquestionably loyal and he knows the parameters of his duties and responsibilities.
Which brings us to the issue of the frigate contract which online media Rappler wants to stir into a storm in an apparent move to get back at President Duterte whom they faulted as behind the Securities and Exchange Commission decision to shut them off. What is actually a common denominator in these twin controversies is that involved in the decision process were all officials of the Aquino administration. The naval contract was a done deal before Duterte stepped into Malacañang while four of the five SEC Commissioners who decided to close Rappler were also appointees of Aquino.
Dragging the name of Presidential Asst. Bong Go to the frigate deal therefore stinks of malice. It's journalistic witchcraft which the desperate writers of Rappler have conjured. They thought that by training their guns on Bong Go they will hurt Duterte. They virtually stonewalled the fact that even Vice Admiral Ronald J. Mercado, the relieved Philippine Navy Chief, said that Bong had nothing to do with the negotiation of the controversial deal which was concluded during the previous administration. Any which way you look at it Bong was drag into the tempest in the teacup because of their obstinate belief that Duterte had a hand in the closure of Rappler. Far from it.
The role of Bong Go had been defined and Pia Ranada should know this. As PAS he too supervises the Presidential Management Staff the primary function of which is to receive complaints sent to 8888 electronic window, letters and personal gripes sent to the President's office. It is this office that parcels out which complaint should be referred to the proper government department and bureau. The complaint arising from the naval contract which was sent to Malacanang and referred to the Defense Department was just one of the many concerns sent to the DD as a matter of course. So why the fuss?
Pia writes as if she is too scared of President Duterte like she wants to impress to the public that the closure of Rappler is a threat to press freedom. Far from it. Thousands of media outlets and journalists including Pia and Ressa enjoy their liberties like no other. Suppression of freedom of expression? Theirs and those of other media practitioners and pseudo-journalists who join them in the pipsqueak rallies are the best argument to disprove their claim. What Pia could have done was to bring her case to the President personally. There is absolutely no doubt that despite the flagellation they did the President, in his personal capacity he will find means to help them by way of curing the legal infirmities which Rappler is in deep shit. Pia should know this personally for wasn't she the newbie journalist who candidate Duterte and his "sidekick" Bong Go picked up from the canal where she fell while covering the campaign event in Davao City? Duterte cancelled the rest of his campaign sortie to personally bring the frail Pia to the hospital and did not leave her until he was assured she is well and hale.
But then that was then.