In November 2017, during high-level meetings at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference held here, Presidential Assistant Christopher Go—also known as Bong—came up with a selfie that since went viral.
It was a shot with President Rodrigo Duterte and United States President Donald Trump talking to each other at the sidelines of the summit. Go, who was not included in the conversation, hovered around the two leaders in an attempt to capture what he felt was a historic moment.
That act had unintended consequences, given Filipinos’ social media savvy and inherent, if at times dark, humor. An app was developed putting Go in a frame that could then be used for all other photos. As a result, Go’s face became a fixture in many pictures, just for kicks, and he became known as “pambansang [national] photobomber.”
Unfortunately, Go’s unwelcome ubiquitous presence persists, long after that Apec stint.
He is reported to have billboards and banners in many places across the country in an attempt to make himself familiar with voters prior to the 2019 senatorial elections.
Go’s camp likely deems this necessary because his background and capabilities are foreign to many, even as his is a perennial shadow beside Mr. Duterte’s, dating back from the latter’s time as mayor of Davao City. All Go is known for is his proximity to, and we suppose influence on, the President, even as we don’t have a clue as to how he earned that special place.
The Senate is a different battleground, and one will prove one’s merits not by sheer loyalty but by competence and independence. Some among the existing crop of senators still lack these —what more Mr. Go?
It’s either his camp is too persistent and shameless, or all this is a ploy to divert the people’s attention from the administration’s excesses and inadequacies. Either way, Go’s continued photobombing—inserting himself when it is neither fitting nor appropriate to do so—serves as an ugly reminder that for some people, governance is synonymous with blind loyalty and convenient connections, nothing else.
This is most certainly not the image the Duterte administration would wish to project, especially during these trying times. Somebody must tell Go to stop.