The Commission on Elections on Tuesday urged those who want to register to run in next year’s polls not to follow the example of Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go, who violated the four-companion rule when he filed his certificate of candidacy.
On Monday, Go was accompanied by President Rodrigo Duterte and several Cabinet members when he filed his COC, sparking criticism that the Comelec was giving the senatorial aspirant special treatment.
But in an interview over radio dzMM, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said it would have been difficult to block the President and his Cabinet from entering with Go.
Other candidates, however, should not use Monday’s incident as an excuse to break the COC rules, he said.
“They are not the President,” he said in Filipino. We have rules and if there was a mistake yesterday, we need not repeat it.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III defended the Comelec from critics who accused them of giving special treatment to Go, saying the poll body could not enforce the four-companion limit because the President was there, and he could not be deprived of his presidential security.
“The Comelec could not do anything about this,” he said.
“That’s the President. There’s only one of those in the entire Philippines,” he added. “There was nothing they could do.”
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Davao lawyer Charmalou Aldevera was being considered to replace Go as special assistant to the President.
Panelo said the President would have to make an official announcement first, however.
Duterte said Go is considered “resigned from employment” upon filing his COC.
“Bong is not my aide anymore. The moment he signed his certificate of candidacy, he ceased to be a government employee,” the President said.
Aside from Go, members of the Duterte Cabinet who are expected to seek national and local posts next year are resigned Foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, resigned presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, and resigned Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Francis Tolentino, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, and Technical Education Skills and Development Authority Director-General Guiling Mamondiong are also expected to seek public office next year.