MANILA, Philippines – A large crowd of people saying they support Special Assistant to the President Bong Go showed up outside the Senate before the hearing on the P15.7-billion frigates deal on Monday, February 19.
Go even alighted from his car to address the gathering before entering the Senate building.
On stage, Go thanked his supporters for enduring the heat and waking up early just to show their solidarity. Despite never having run for any elective position, Go spoke as smoothly as a politician in a political sortie.
He also defended himself, saying he would tell the Senate he had nothing to do with the Philippine Navy's warships deal. (READ: DOCUMENTS: How Bong Go is linked thrice to frigates deal)
"Ito lang sasabihin ko mamaya, 'ma at pa' – malay ko at pakialam ko diyan (This is all I will say later, I had no idea and I didn't interfere)," said Go, flanked by Presidential Security Group personnel and Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.
"Kung ayaw ni Pangulo ng corruption, hindi namin gagawin 'yan (If the President doesn't like corruption, we won't do it)," added Go, drawing cheers from the crowd.
"Bong Go! Bong Go! Bong Go!" shouted the supporters, lifting higher their posters which read "We Support and Stand Behind You Christopher 'Bong' Go" or "We Support Sec Bong Go."
Some could even be heard shouting, "Bong Go sa Senado (for the Senate)!"
Many of the supporters are members of chapters of PDP-Laban, the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Cabinet in full force at Senate probe to support Bong Go)
Clueless about hearing
Supporters interviewed by Rappler said they stand by Go but don't know why he has been called to the Senate, or even what the topic of the hearing is.
Sittinor Kurangkeng, a woman from Lemery, Batangas, said she and her group spent their own funds to be at the rally.
"May sarili kaming pera, ginamit namin para makarating dito (We have our own money, we used it to get here)," said Kurangkeng, with her female companions also insisting no one paid them to be at the Senate.
Earlier: Bong Go supporter doesn't know why Bong Go was called to Senate this morning. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/bQifpeziIa — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) February 19, 2018
Asked what they are calling for by joining the rally, Kurangkeng's companion said, "Ang panawagan namin sana makuwan namin 'yung gusto namin kaya suporta namin kay ano makuha namin gusto namin, mawala na lahat ng mga corrupt, pati 'yung mahirap matulungan sila, matulungan kami."
(What we are calling for is to get what we want that's why we are supporting them, so that the corrupt will disappear and for the government to help the poor, help us.)
Kurangkeng, responding to the same question, said, "'Yung gusto namin ang maitayo natin ay 'yung sa pederalismo (What we want is to establish federalism)."
When Rappler asked if they knew about the frigates issue hounding Go, Kurangkeng said she knew a little bit about it but could not explain.
Asked why Go was called to the Senate, she said, "Hindi ko alam (I don't know)."
Another supporter, Cristina Rosas, said she supports Go because "mabait siya, maaasahan (he is kind, dependable)."
WATCH: Another Bong Go supporter, Cristina Rosas, says she doesn't know topic of Senate hearing this morning. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/sl9YPMFX9l — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) February 19, 2018
But asked what the Senate hearing is about, she said, "Hindi namin alam 'yung pag-uusapan eh, hindi namin alam kung ano 'yung sasabihin nila (We don't know what the discussion is about, we don't know what they will say)." (READ: Bong Go says his office 'endorsed' frigate supplier's complaint to DND) – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.