LAGUNA, Philippines – A heated exchange ensued between administration candidate Bong Go and opposition bet Bam Aquino on Monday, May 6, over the issues of Bikoy and black propaganda.
The two were in Calamba, Laguna, where Senate President Vicente Sotto III endorsed them along with other reelectionist senators. Go was two seats away from Aquino during Monday's press conference.
It started when Go was asked to react to the surfacing of Peter Joemel Advincula, who claimed to be "Bikoy," the man in the video series where President Rodrigo Duterte, his children, and Go are accused of having links to the illegal drug trade.
“It’s black propaganda. This is a political season. I never met, saw, or talked to Bikoy…. If [you can prove that] I saw Bikoy even just once, do not vote for me,” Go said in Filipino during the press conference.
“If you don’t believe in me or President Duterte, vote for Otso Diretso. If you do, vote for us,” he added.
“Bikoy made a mistake of coming to the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines). He should have sought help from the mental hospital,” he said.
Go showed his back to the media – the second time for him to do so since the videos spread on social media – to supposedly prove that he has no tattoo on his back, as alleged by "Bikoy." Go later on walked to Aquino and asked the opposition senator to check his back.
When it was his turn to speak, Aquino called out Go for the administration’s spread of lies against him and other opposition members.
“We don’t have anything to do with that. It’s not true that there is no black propaganda [from your end] because you have been attacking us with black propaganda for the past 3 years,” Aquino said in Filipino, referring to the fake information being spread by pro-administration bloggers and by Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.
Go denied Aquino’s allegations: “Ako magiging honest, di kami gumagawa n'yan, not our style.” (I'll be honest, we don't resort to things like that, not out style.)
At some point, Go and Aquino tried to outspeak each other.
“Ito aaminin ko po, di rin [namin] style 'yan…. Sana itong eleksiyon natin pagpilian po natin 'yung plataporma, 'yung mga taong talagang tutulong at magmamalasakit sa tao,” Aquino said. (I'll tell you the truth as well, that's not our style either.... I hope that in the coming elections, we will choose [candidates] according to platforms, those people who will truly help and will care for you.)
Aquino then slowed down “out of respect” to Sotto, who endorsed him despite being in the opposition.
Sotto, in turn, tried to diffuse the tension by saying he knows the two men and vouched for their integrity.
“I can assure you. I know them, Bong Go does not spread black propaganda, Senator Bam Aquino does not spread black propaganda,” Sotto said in Filipino.
After the press conference, Go and Aquino were seen talking. Sotto joined them and raised the two candidates’ hands.
In an interview after the briefing, Go insisted that Otso Diretso is behind the “black propaganda” of "Bikoy."
Go, who earlier said he is ready to join Duterte in jail, said he is prepared to face "Bikoy" in any investigation. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org