THERE is a saying among us Pinoys which says “ang punong hitik ng bunga ang siyang pinupokol”. The tree that bears bountiful fruits is stoned. That is as true today as ever as it was before.
This adage finds meaning and significance during the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy for senator of Special Assistant to the President Sec. Bong Go, when accompanied by Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte. There is a guideline, alright, that only four people may accompany a candidate who will file his CoC but in the case of Bong he has more than four. The critics find this rare opportunity to lambaste Bong conveniently stonewalling the fact that the President was present with his usual security detail and a couple of Cabinet members. They too did not mind that not a few candidates brought along with them a retinue of noisy and rabid supporters and some with a band of drums and bugles.
In the school of how to win in an election derby, good or bad publicity is good. It is even best for Bong Go for the deluge of criticism indicates that he is one that is “hitik ng bunga”, the one that bears a lot of fruits while the others are obviously barren.
For his long years of service as special assistant to Duterte while the later was Mayor of Davao City and now President of the Philippines, Bong Go was made an object of media attack only thrice. The first was when he was summoned to a senate inquiry on his role in the Navy’s proposal to purchase frigate vessels.
SAP Bong, who also heads the Presidential Management Staff, merely routed the documents that pertains to the transaction to the appropriate agency (Department of National Defense) but some creative paid hacks in the media tweaked the issue and attempted to link Go to the controversy. To the chagrin of his critics and some senators out to go after his jugular, even the naval official who raised the issue of conflict between the DND and the Navy testified that Bong has nothing to do with the transaction at all.
The second is another try of some media cabal who claims that the family of Bong corners billions of DPWH contracts. The truth is that his parents have been in the construction business when he was yet a toddler and that all DPWH projects are publicly bid. That and the third is the scene at the Comelec office.
The thing with Bong is that he is the most intimate person to President Duterte. He is the custodian of private and official documents of his boss. The perception of the traditional critics of the government is that a person who enjoys the trust and confidence of the President has the power of persuasion. Well, they are wrong with Bong. He might be the President’s data bank, phone exchange operator and in charge of the President’s social outreach programs for disasters and emergencies but Bong does not venture into influencing the President in the decision making.
If President Duterte is his chief election campaigner, then it’s merely on the fundamental fact that SAP Bong Go had, through the years, absorbed lessons from running government apparatus, is a person of integrity, simplicity and an action man. His critics and potential political adversaries knew that Bong Go is like that tree which bears the sweetest fruits. Now add the big advantage of having the most popular President as a tutor and Go is definitely a winner.