MARAWI CITY – Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday reaffirmed his solidarity with his Muslim brothers here as he vowed to help the city rise from the ashes of conflict.
Even as this developed, actor Robin Padilla—a Muslim convert—appealed to his brothers in Marawi to support Go’s senatorial bid, as well as the chosen candidates of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Masaya po ako na nakabalik muli kami dito sa Marawi. Alam nyo po sampung beses kaming bumalik ni Pangulong Duterte. Tulong-tulong po tayo na pabangunin ang Marawi. Bangon Marawi po, mabuhay po ang taga-Marawi,” Go said a at the rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan at the Mindanao State University gym here.
He recalled that he has established a close relationship with Muslims while serving as assistant to then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
“Alam nyo, malapit po sa akin ang mga kapatid kong Muslim. Kada taon nagpapadala po si Pangulong Duterte ng mga nagha-hajj po sa Mecca nung Mayor pa po siya ng Davao City,” Go said.
“At ang ginagawa ko po, pinipili namin yung mga mosque na malayo at saka yung hindi talaga nakakapunta, yung wala pong pera..inuuna po namin yung mahihirap na hindi makaka-afford na pumunta po sa Mecca,” he added.
Go stressed that Duterte treated Christians and Muslims equally in Davao City, noting the city has passed an Anti-Discrimination ordinance, adding: “Ganun namin kamahal ang aming mga kapatid na Muslim sa Davao.”
Assured by the people of Marawi that they are satisfied with the President Duterte’s performance in handling the affairs of the country for the past three years, Go vowed to support the President’s programs and policies.
“Kung masaya kayo ipagpatuloy natin yung pagbabagong inumpisahan ni Pangulong Duterte. Ano po ito? Kampanya laban sa kriminalidad, kampanya laban sa corruption, kampanya laban sa iligal na droga.”
Go also appealed to the people of Marawi to help President Duterte win the fight against the menace of illegal drugs.
“Alam nyo naman po na ang puno’t-dulo ng giyera dito sa Marawi ay droga. Tulungan nyo po ang ating mahal na Pangulo,” the former SAP stressed.
Reports said the Maute terrorist group that attacked Marawi in May 2017 and sparked a five-month armed conflict that caused death and widespread destruction was largely funded by illegal drugs.
The Duterte administration has prepared a massive rehabilitation effort for Marawi. As of February this year, the government has raised nearly P42 billion for the rehabilitation of the city. The program involves rebuilding roads and key infrastructure, as well as provision of livelihood and shelters for residents.
Victims are expected to be able to return home in September 2019 as the clearing of debris was expected to finish by August 30, 2019.
In addition to the campaign against criminality, corruption and illegal drugs, Go said he would also push for improvement in the delivery of health services, including the upgrade of facilities of public health institutions and the passage of a law to enable the establishment of Malasakit Centers in more areas of the country.
The Malasakit Center makes it easier and faster for poor patients to avail of medical and financial assistance from the government by bringing together in one room all concerned agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PCSO and Philhealth.
Go likewise said he has prepared programs to support agriculture, provide housing for the poor, education, long-term sports development, localized peace talks, fire protection and prevention, creation of a Department of OFW, the passage of a Magna Carta for barangay officials, and improved benefits for senior citizens.
“Kami ni Pangulong Duterte, serbisyo lang kami sa inyong lahat. Serbisyo sa tao ay serbisyo sa Diyos. Wala kaming ibang hangarin ni Pangulong Duterte kundi kabutihan ng bawat Pilipino, kabutihan ng bawat Moro dahil mahal namin kayo,” Go said.
Meanwhile, Robin Padilla bared that Go was instrumental in allowing him to provide assistance to them despite the strict military security in place after the siege of the city ended.
“Labas masok ako sa Marawi kahit curfew, naghahanap kami ng evacuation center para paglagyan ng tubig. Alam nyo ba kung sino ang nagbigay sa akin ng go signal para makapasok at labas sa Marawi para makatulong kami? Mga mahal kong kapatid, si Bong Go po yun, yung SAP natin,” Padilla said.
He noted that he was assisted in his effort by the police, the military and the member of the Bangon Marawi task force because of Go.
“Huwag niyo po akong tignan bilang isang pulitiko kundi bilang kapatid. .. At ang pinakikiusap ko sa eleksyon bomoto kayo ng straight, lahat ng kaalyado ni Presidente Duterte, iboto ninyo. Unang-una na siyempre, yung aking best friend si Bong Go,” Padilla said.
He stressed that while many of his Muslim brothers in Marawi were urging him to run for the Senate, he decided against to dedicate his life to his faith.
Padilla also assured the people of Marawi that President Duterte is sincere in his effort to help them.
“Kahit kailan hindi kayo malilimutan ni Presidente Duterte. Ngayon kumakatok ako sa puso ninyo, huwag ninyong kalimutan ang Presidente natin at ang kanyang mga (kandidatong) senador,” he stressed.