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Bong Go withdraws, says he was unprepared for presidential race

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 5:24 p.m.) — Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said Tuesday he is backing out of the 2022 presidential race.

Go, President Rodrigo Duterte’s long-time and most trusted aide, is the presidential candidate of the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan. PDDS is an allied party of the administration PDP-Laban party.

Elected in the 2019 midterm polls, Go's six-year term as a senator ends in 2025.

In a chance interview with reporters, the first-term senator admitted he was not prepared to seek the highest elective post in the country. 

Go, initially named PDP-Laban's presidential candidate, filed his candidacy for vice president in October after Duterte suddenly declined the party's nomination. The president said then that he was retiring from politics.

In a flurry of withdrawals earlier this month, Duterte decided to run for senator, Go moved up to running for president under PDDS and Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa pulled out as PDP-Laban presidential bet.

“Nabigla po ako, isipin mo in a span of hours, bigla kang lilipat sa pagiging kandidato bilang pangulo. 'Yung ibang kandidato pinaghandaan nila yan all throughout the years,” Go said, saying he had no ambitions to seek the presidency

(I was shocked. Imagine, in a span of hours, you suddenly become the candidate for president. Others had years to prepare for it.)

According to Go, his family did not want him to run for president and he did not want to add to Duterte’s problems.

"In the past few days I realized that my heart and my mind are contradicting my actions… Those are my reasons. That’s why I am withdrawing from the race," he said.

Go’s withdrawal leaves the ruling party without an official candidate for next year’s polls for now. 

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also PDP-Laban executive vice president, said members of the party would meet to talk about Go's decision.

"This is (a) very new (development) as far as PDP-Laban is concerned. I think PDP-Laban will have a series of meetings to discuss this and let's wait for the statement to be issued by the PDP-Laban," Nograles said during the "Laging Handa" public briefing aired over state-run PTV. 

The chief executive’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is the running mate of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos, the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. 

Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body’s “law department has no authority to accept any filings, considering that today is a holiday.”

He added that Go is not entitled to substitution since he is withdrawing voluntarily. — with a report from The STAR/Alexis Romero

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