If you followed President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign, you might have noticed that there’s always a poker-faced man in shades beside him.
He’s known for the unflattering title of “national photobomber,” but Bong Go is more than a decoration to Duterte’s photo ops.
Go is the Davao City mayor’s most trusted aide and long-time executive assistant. If you want to reach Duterte, you need to go through Go first.
In Rappler’s profile of Go, he said he became Duterte’s aide through fate.
Back when Duterte was a Davao representative, his then aide died in the middle of a basketball game.
So when Duterte needed someone to pick up his things from Manila, it was Go, the grandson of a friend of Duterte, who came to the rescue.
He just finished his management course at De La Salle University in Manila and wasn’t doing anything at that time.
Go said that after he picked up Duterte’s things, the former Davao representative came to entrust him with more tasks “bit by bit.”
“Ako ‘yung parang one-man stop niya. Lahat, babayaran niya, issue siya ng tseke, punta kami ng gasolinahan (I became his one-man stop. Everything, payments, issuance of checks, getting gas),” said Go.
Eventually, Go became in charge not only of personal but also official matters.
He’s been by Duterte’s side for four of his seven terms as mayor, his one term as vice mayor, and a few years of his term as Davao representative.
In a way, Go’s role is a gatekeeper that allows Duterte to focus on the big decisions.
“Minsan, ayaw mo na siya ma-stress sa trabaho niya, ‘di ba? Pag gising niya sa umaga, may mga bagay-bagay na may kailangan siya gawin. Let’s say 100 na tao na naghahanap sa kanya. Seventy na ‘yun alam ko kung anong isasagot. Alam ko ‘yung usual na sagot. Ang ginagawa ko na lang, hindi ko na hahantayin,” said Go.
(Sometimes, you don’t want him to be stressed by his work, right? When he wakes up in the morning, there are things he has to do. Let’s say there are 100 people looking for him. Seventy of them, I know how he will answer them. I know his usual answer. What I do is, I don’t wait for him anymore.)
But did you know Go had a big role in Duterte’s decision to run for president?
Back in October 16 last year, the entire country was wondering if Duterte will beat the deadline for the filing of candidacies for national positions for the 2016 elections.
Will he or will he not run?
Rumors then was that a private jet was sent to bring Duterte to Manila. Go confimed this rumor, but at that time, Duterte was fast asleep.
Go said many people were calling him to look for Duterte. That’s when Go made a decision that will change the course of destiny for the Davao City mayor.
“Sinabi ko kay Koko [Pimentel], as PDP-Laban president, ikaw mag-file [ng candidacy],” said Go.
(I told Koko Pimentel, as PDP-Laban president, you file for candidacy.)
Go wanted to provide a “window of hope” for Duterte’s supporters. He knew that substitution for a candidate is allowed if someone from the same party filed a candidacy.
That’s when PDP-Laban member Martin Diño filed his candidacy for president, beating the 5PM deadline.
The move allowed Duterte to eventually run as Diño’s substitute and emerge victorious during the May 9 elections.