Is Bong Go a senator or what?

TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag - The Freeman

It is a widely accepted fact that former "special assistant" Christopher "Bong" Go owes his election to the Senate to President Duterte. And with gratitude being a virtue, especially in predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, no Filipino would begrudge Go if he stayed loyal and true to Duterte to his dying day. Even both their enemies and critics would give him that.

But for God's sake can Go stop following Duterte around now that he is a senator? As special assistant to the president, nobody gives a damn if Duterte asks Go to wipe his behind and Go drops to his knees begging how many times. But as a new senator of the republic, Go has to choose between fawning on Duterte or giving his new role as senator at least the appearance of independence and dignity by being his own man.

Go's winning feat was incredible. He placed third in a race for 12 seats, amazing for a man who has never held an elective position, or even stood in the light away from Duterte's shadow. It’s a feat that speaks volumes of both Duterte's popularity and endorsement power, and the total willingness of the Filipino people to take their chances with someone whose only claim to personal fame is as "selfie king" of the Philippines.

That Duterte doesn’t tell Go to shoo, scat, or scram is testament to the president's respect for the man. Duterte doesn’t want to offend Go by pointing out to him what is obvious to everyone else. Duterte wants Go to make the determination himself. But again, for God's sake, how long will it take Go to hear a different call other than "come to papa."

To be sure, Go hasn’t been remiss in his duties as senator. He has probably filed more bills already than can be expected of a neophyte senator. And surely he must have already attended more than his fair share of sessions than can be claimed by any other newbie under similar circumstances. But most Filipinos don’t have access to such information. And even if the records are public, most don’t bother to take the effort to find out.

Most people nowadays simply rely on what they see on television or what gets posted online. But unless there is a Senate investigation or hearing, there’s almost no visual anywhere of the "boring" stuff that senators do when they do anything. As far as Go is concerned, what people see of him is him clinging to Duterte's back, with an earnestness and tenacity that matches a panda's to its bamboo, a koala's to its eucalyptus.

Images of Go marching with Duterte to and from his state of the nation address before a joint session of Congress remain, to this day, probably more enduring than the SONA itself for being so scandalously tacky. Go was supposed to be with his fellow senators, waiting to be addressed to by a co-equal "employee" of government, to use Duterte's own self-deprecating description of his job. But no, the collar apparently still says "aide."

Go must become the senator that the millions who voted for him want him to be. No problem with remaining a Duterte man even in the Senate. That is probably how Duterte wanted it to be, or else he would have kept him as his aide up to today. It is one thing to provide Duterte support in the Senate as a senator, another to be a senator who does anything and everything for his president, perhaps even fanning away the mosquitoes as he sleeps.

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