OPINION: Bong Go and the system of checks and balances

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Sep 04 2019 04:52 PM

The government of the Philippine is structured in such a way that the three branches of government – the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial – are co-equal and independent from each other.

The independence of the three branches of government from each other is vital under the principle of checks and balances in a democracy.

The system of checks and balances is instituted to prevent any branch of government or any person in the government from becoming too powerful leading to dictatorship and the destruction of democracy.

That’s why with the loss of all the senatorial candidates of the opposition in the May elections, the fear of many is that the Senate, which has shown its independence in the past, would, this time, be a rubber stamp of Malacañang. Senate President Tito Sotto took pains to re-assure the public that the Senate will remain independent but cooperative with Malacañang.

But, it seems, there is one senator who does not know what is his role for the position that he was elected for: Christopher Lawrence Go, popularly known as Bong Go.

Go was aide to Duterte way back to the latter’s mayor days in Davao. The relationship continued up to Malacañang and has not been broken even with the election of Go as senator.

Go continues to be behind or oftentimes now, beside, the President in almost all the presidential public appearances. He even acts as the presidential spokesman as when he spoke of the whereabouts of the President who was not seen for over a week last month. 

He was with the President in almost all the photos during the recent visit of Duterte to China doing the Duterte trademark fist bump.

A clear example of Go acting as extension of Duterte in the Senate was his speech last Monday during the joint hearing of the Committees on Justice and Human Rights, Constitutional Amendments and Revisions of Codes, Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, and Finance and Blue Ribbon on the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law. The interpretation of this law by Justice and Bureau of Correction officials allowed the release of convicted rapists, murderers, and drug dealers. If not for public outrage, convicted rapist murderer, former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez, would have also been released.

Public opinion is against the Duterte administration because the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief, Nicanor Faeldon, enjoys the trust and confidence of the President. Even when P6.4 million worth of shabu passed through Customs under his watch, Duterte promoted him to deputy administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

In his statement, Go was more concerned about protecting Duterte. Excerpts from his statement: 

“Tulad ni Pangulong Duterte, galit po kami sa mga criminal lalo na sa mga involved sa heinous crime. Consistent kami sa stand na iyan…

“Kasi po, para maintindihan lang po ng publiko, gusto ko i-emphasize that President Duterte exercises prudence for executive clemency. Binubusisi niya ang lahat ng dumadaan sa kanya for his approval. 

“Hindi po siya padalos-dalos at pinag-aaralan po niya lahat ng dumadaan sa kanya. In fact, nasa la mesa pa niya ang iilang humihingi ng executive clemency or pardon, at pinapabalik niya, humihingi siya ng narrative – sino ba ang mga ito, matanda na ba ang mga ito, deserving na ba ang mga ito lumabas at lumaya? 

“Anyway, bago po pumutok itong balitang ito, gusto kong sabihin sa inyo ang totoo. Maalala ko August 20 nabasa natin sa mga peryodiko ang possible release of Mr. Sanchez. Araw-araw po may presidential briefer na binabasa ang ating Pangulo including confidential ones.

“Noong August 21 ng gabi, nabasa niyo ito. Ang pinakaunang niyang ginawa ay pinatawagan niya kaagad si BuCor Chief Faeldon at Mrs. Sarmiento at sinabi niya kay Chief Faeldon: “Do not release.”

“At ang sinabi niya, 'order from the higher authority.' Hindi niya muna pinangalanan pero ibig sabihin, wala naman ibang higher authority. Pinarating rin po kay Sec. Guevarra na hindi po papayag si Pangulong Duterte. 

“In fact, sinabi ko nga, nagbigay na lang ako ng statement kay Mr. Sanchez na pagdusahan at pagbayaran mo na lang ang kasalanan mo sa loob kaysa lumabas ka, baka iikli pa ang iyong buhay. Ang sabi ko nga, mabuti pang hintayin mo na lang na si San Pedro na lang ang humatol sayo.

“Anyway, tuloy-tuloy ang kampanya ni Pangulong Duterte laban sa kriminalidad. Magkasama po kami rito. Asahan po ng mga biktima na hindi papayag si Pangulong Duterte na ganun na lang po basta-basta.”

Why is he using the Legislative stage to protect and promote someone from the Executive when he should be investigating how that person is doing his job implementing the law?. 

Why is he the one announcing the investigation that the Executive Department is going to conduct on the same issue that the Senate is investigating? 

He is an anomaly as a senator.

Blog: www.ellentordesillas.com
Email: ellentordesillas@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.