MANILA, Philippines – Despite the President’s call that the police and the military should stay "strictly neutral" and not support any candidate for the 2019 elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) honored presidential aide and now Senate candidate Bong Go, a day before the official campaign period.
On Monday, February 11, the PNP launched its Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (Youth Against Drugs and Terrorism) or KKDAT campaign, attended by hundreds of college students. KKDAT aims to start a “national youth movement” overseen by the PNP to fight illegal drugs and terrorism.
The PNP got Go as its guest of honor and speaker. He led the pledge for the program, delivered a 20-minute speech, met with the students after the program, and then held a press conference inside the police camp.
“Tulad ninyo wala po akong ibang bisyo kundi magserbisyo, at hindi lang kung anong klaseng serbisyo kundi serbisyong tatak Duterte (Like you, I don’t have a vice but service, and not just any kind of service but a service with the Duterte brand),” Go said during his keynote speech.
He added: “Kung saan man po ako ipagpadpad aking tadhana, patuloy n'yo po akong maging tulay kay Pangulong Duterte. Asahan nyo full support kami sa mga pulis (Wherever I may go, let me continue to be a bridge to President Duterte. You can count on our full support to the police)”
LOOK: Duterte-aide-turned-Senate-bet Bong Go is guest of honor and speaker for the launch of PNP's Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo campaign in Camp Crame. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/PP7YvzRTz0 — Rambo Talabong (@rambotalabong) February 11, 2019
What Duterte said: Go’s appearance comes despite President Duterte already warning the police and military as early as October 2018 not to engage in partisan politics.
"This election, strictly neutral tayong lahat (we should all be strictly neutral). The Armed Forces, the police, and the uniformed personnel of government, I am asking you not to indulge in partisan politics. Wala tayong susuportahan (We will support no one)," the Chief Executive said during the Philippine Army Command turnover ceremony on October 15.
Before the top officers of the Army, Duterte had claimed that not once did he enter a military camp to ask for special favors.
"Ayaw ko na magbisita sa (I don't like to visit) regional command...I may have a very lousy mouth, but you know my values are quite good especially when it calls for the exercise of delicadeza," Duterte said.
Go’s denial: During the press briefing, Go denied campaigning inside the police camp. He stressed that he had an earlier engagement with the association of police chiefs of the Philippines the same day in Camp Crame, where he said he neither wanted anyone’s votes nor special treatment.
“Pagpasok ko pa lang, sinabi ko na wag niyo po ako bigyan ng arrival honors…Sabi ko pumunta ako as invited guest only and as private citizen or maybe as former secretary (As soon as I came in, I told them not to give me arrival honors… I said I came as an invited guest and as a private citizen, or maybe a former secretary,” Go said.
Go, however, is already a Senate candidate for the administration party PDP-Laban. (READ: Duterte's chosen ones: Who will benefit most from the President's endorsement?)
In a text message to Rappler, police community relations deputy director Senior Superintendent Bartolome Bustamante denied violating the President’s order, arguing that Go was not invited as a Senate candidate.
“No, it has nothing to do with politics, KKDAT has long been implemented in Davao and now we are making the project nationwide, as a tool to engage the youth in the campaign against illegal drugs and terrorism, which Bong Go been espousing in Davao Region. Besides, he was invited in his capacity as the chairman of the ACCPI (association of police chiefs),” Bustamante said. – Rappler.com