Press Release
September 1, 2021

Bong Go hits back at those questioning PRRD's choice of appointees; calls on colleagues to be fair and respect due process for the truth to come out

After issues were raised by some senators regarding the qualifications of appointed officials in the Duterte administration, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go emphasized that it is the prerogative of President Rodrigo Duterte being the appointing authority as provided by law.

In a privilege speech on Tuesday, August 31, Go cited President Duterte who, during his Talk to the People address on Tuesday morning, said that he has the authority to appoint individuals he trusts in government positions.

"It is the President's prerogative who to appoint in his office and in his administration. Kung gusto mong makialam sa appointments, maging Pangulo ka po," said Go.

"Why question the appointing authority when his right to do so was given to him by the Constitution? If you have reservations on the qualifications of people in the government, question it before the proper courts. Or if you want to change the qualifications, pass a law to favor what you want," he added.

While merit is important in appointing officials, Go said that trust is equally considered by the appointing authority. He went on to say that just because some appointees of the President are from Davao should not be an issue because he has the authority to install people he thinks are capable to lead these offices.

"Bakit issue na ngayon na puro taga-Davao ang naa-appoint? Ano pong masama doon kung sila ang pinagkakatiwalaan ng Pangulo? Ano tingin nyo sa Pangulo, hindi marunong kumilatis? Personal choice niya po 'yan. Hindi porke't abogado niya, eh tao ko na. Abogado niya po 'yan noon pa," said Go.

"Huwag kayong magmalinis. Sa mga opisina ninyo, wala ba kayong katrabaho na kamag-anak, ka-fraternity, ka-probinsya, o kaibigan? Sabi ko nga, doon lang po sana tayo sa totoo. Maging patas po tayo," he added.

Coming from the province, Go believes that appointing other probinsyanos to serve in government is a non-issue as long as they do the right thing and avoid corruption.

"Kami po ni Pangulong Duterte ay mga probinsyano na nagtratrabaho ng matino, tumutulong sa mga Pilipino at nagsusumikap na maibangon sa krisis ang ating bansa. Ano po ang masama kung kumuha siya ng mga probinsiyano para tulungan siyang magserbisyo sa bayan?" said Go.

"Ang pangunahing bilin nga ng Pangulo sa kanyang mga ina-appoint: 'Just do what is right and avoid corruption.' Wala sa usapan ang korapsyon. Kasi kung gusto mo talagang tumulong sa administrasyon, gagawin mo kung ano ang tama," he added.

The Senator went on to say that he and Duterte are working together with other co-equal branches in order to eradicate corruption in the Philippines despite the reality that it is difficult to fully accomplish such goal.

"And if you believe that people have committed crimes and should be punished, then file the necessary cases or give our prosecutors sufficient evidence to ensure that these people are indeed punished. Patunayan natin kay Pangulong Duterte at lalo na sa mga kababayan natin na may kahihinatnan ang mga hearing na ito," he said.

Go also reiterated that he, as former Special Assistant to the President, did not decide on appointments of key officials in the executive branch particularly of former Department of Budget and Management Usec. Christopher Lloyd Lao.

Go also clarified that Lao was never his aide and that he did not directly report to him. He explained further that his office as SAP from 2016 to 2018 only had supervisory powers over the Presidential Management Staff where Lao belonged then, as well as other select offices in the OP, and they do not report directly to him nor do they function as his 'aide'.

That said, the Senator emphasized that anyone found to be complicit in corruption will be prosecuted in accordance with the law under the administration's anti-corruption policy with utmost fairness and respect for due process.

"Basta't napatunayang sangkot ka sa korapsyon, kahit sino ka man, kahit saan ka man nanggaling, dapat kang managot. At tulungan natin si Pangulong Duterte, ipakulong po ang dapat ipakulong kung may kasalanan po," said Go.

Go then emphasized that while he supports the upper chamber's collective goal to find out the truth, he also urged his colleagues to listen and review all the facts before making any conclusion or judgment.

"But if we do not know how to listen or, worse, if we already have a conclusion even before getting all the facts, then we have failed in providing the people true and accurate information. Aren't we all for the truth?" said Go.

"Sinusubaybayan po ng Pangulo ang lahat. Pinapanood po niya, binabantayan po niya. Ipinagtatanggol ko po ang ating trabaho. I am with you, sa lahat po ng colleagues ko rito para malaman po ang katotohanan. Pagtulungan po natin, alamin natin ang katotohanan at kasuhan ang may kasalanan," he added.

He criticized the manner in which the investigations are conducted, calling them "bullying."

"Alam ninyo po, magkasama tayo, lalong-lalo na po sa laban sa korapsyon sa gobyerno, sana naman po sa tamang paraan. Hindi po sa bullying na pamamaraan," he urged.

The ongoing inquiry, according to Go, has redirected the Health Department's focus away from the COVID-19 response. He also stated that certain health officials have grown afraid to take action as a result of the probe.

"Importante sa ating lahat ang COVID-19 response. We cannot afford to fail. Buhay po ang nakataya, buhay po ang nakasalalay dito. Tumataas ang kaso, 22,000 cases po kahapon, naging dominant variant na po ngayon ang Delta. Nakakatakot po ito. Pero habang tumataas ang kaso, tayo nag-aaway dito. Hindi po ito nakakatulong. Kung merong kakasuhan, kasuhan na po at ikulong na po, para makapagtrabaho na tayo," said Go.

"Marami pong natatakot gumalaw ngayon. 'Yung mga opisyales ng gobyerno, takot na pong gumalaw, wala nang gustong gumalaw kaya po natatagalan lalo. Habang naghi-hearing, tumataas ang kaso, hindi na po nakaka-focus ang government workers natin, lalo na 'yung mga DOH officials at 'yung involved sa vaccination efforts natin dahil takot na pong gumalaw," he added.

While government detractors want to discredit the government's COVID-19 response, according to Go, he assured that there's no "grand scheme" of corruption during the pandemic.

"Hindi po papayag si Pangulong Duterte. Galit po kami ni Pangulong Duterte sa mga magnanakaw," he said.

Go then repeated his call for his colleagues to observe fairness and due process in the ongoing investigation because it is what the Filipino people deserve.

"The Filipino people deserve fairness and due process, most especially in a committee that we hold in high regard," he said.

"Napaka-crucial (ng role) ng Blue Ribbon dahil aminado naman tayong lahat na para umunlad ang bansa, kailangan linisin ang gobyerno," added Go.

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