Presidential aspirant and former Army officer Lieutenant General (ret.) Antonio Parlade Jr. on Monday claimed that Senator Bong Go is part of the country's "problems" and that he is controlling President Rodrigo Duterte’s decisions.
The former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson made the remark against his fellow presidential aspirant in an ambush interview at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Asked why he did align himself with the President or Go, Parlade said: "I cannot align with Senator Bong Go. I'm sorry but isa sya, kasama sya sa problema ng bayan natin [he is one of the problems our country has]."
Parlade initially declined to expound his position, saying that people in government, including the military, could explain his statement.
He then clarified that he has no rift with Duterte’s longtime aide, but that he does not like how the latter "controls" the president.
"Wala akong rift kay Senator Bong Go [I don't have a rift with Senator Bong Go]. I just don't like the way he does things, including controlling the decisions of the President."
Pressed to cite an instance, Parlade said: “Ang dami [there are many instances]…You ask the AFP, the Philippine Army, you ask the Secretary of National Defense [Delfin Lorenzana]."
While Duterte recently said he is not controlled by anyone, Parlade said: “That's his prerogative, kung 'yan ang feeling niya [if that's the way he feels]."
Parlade filed his certificate of candidacy for president on Monday at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.
Parlade, who retired from the military in July—and was controversial due to his “red-tagging”of administration critics, progressive groups, schools, community pantries and celebrities—replaced Antonio Valdez as the standard bearer of Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP), according to a tweet by GMA News' Joseph Morong.
Lorenzana rebuts Parlade
After Parlade cited Lorenzana as someone who could corroborate his allegation that Go is controlling Duterte, the Defense Secretary issued a repudiation of the claim.
"Lt. Gen. Parlade’s statement is baseless," Lorenzana said in a statement. "In the years I have known the President, he has always been his own man. The President stands by his own decisions, has always been firm in his directives to us, who are working for him, and is not as easily swayed or influenced by others as purported by the general."
Lorenzana also said that Go has been the Department's "main bridge" to Duterte. "I have not known any instance when [Senator Bong Go] acted outside the wishes and decisions of the President," he said.
Lorenzana also denied that there is "brewing trouble or discontent" in the Armed Forces.
Go: 'Tumutulong lang ako'
Responding to Parlade’s remarks, Go said the president had already clarified that no one controls him.
“Siya mismo ang nagsabi na hindi naman s’ya magiging Pangulo kung pinapaikot lang siya ng ibang tao. Tanging siya ang gumagawa ng kanyang magagandang desisyon at tumutulong lang ako mula pa noon,” he said in a statement.
(He himself said that he would not have become President if he is being controlled by other people. He is the only one who makes his good decisions and I have been helping him since then.)
Go said that it is “natural” for him to “help in the proper implementation” of the President’s decisions as he has been serving Duterte for over two decades.
These decisions include the push to increase the salaries of uniformed personnel, military and police officers.
“Tanungin natin ang mga kasama nya sa AFP, PNP, etc. Alam nila kung paano ako tumulong na maipatupad ang desisyon na ito ni Pangulong Duterte para sa kapakanan ng mga sundalo, pulis, bumbero at iba pa,” he said.
(Let’s ask his colleagues in the AFP, PNP, etc. They know how I helped in implementing this decision made by President Duterte for the welfare of our military men, police officers, firefighters, and many more.)
“Ayaw ko nang makipagsagutan kay General Parlade dahil nirerespeto ko siya. Sa katunayan, isa rin ako sa nagrekomenda na maging Undersecretary siya. Alam naman nila ang katotohanan. Mainit na ang pulitika. Pero hayaan natin ang taumbayan ang humusga,” Go added.
(I don’t want to trade words with General Parlade because I respect him. In fact, I was one of the people who recommended him to become an undersecretary. They know the truth. Politics is getting intense. I leave the judgment to our countrymen.) — BM, GMA News