“Right there is when I witnessed Digong’s legendary integrity. To have said no to billions offered to him behind closed doors. Awesome, just awesome.”
The paragraph above is an excerpt from viral Facebook post recalling the close-door meeting attended by Digong, Bong Go, Honeylet, the representative of a wealthy businessman and Cebuano blogger Mike Acebedo Lopez.
Mike Acebedo Lopez confessed he was for Grace Poe whom he had worked with in the MTRCB.
He described Grace Poe as bright, very nice, and full of promise but at the same time, he was hoping someone like Duterte would run.
So when Duterte’s decided to run, Mike’s dilemma was how to break the news to Grace Poe he was switching teams and throwing his support behind Duterte.
But the decision to choose Duterte over Poe became easier after witnessing Duterte’s legendary integrity before his own two eyes.
So without further adieu, I’ll let Mike Acebedo Lopez’s Facebook post do the talking, alright?
In case you wonder why I remain loyal to the President in spite of all the awful things leveled at him, here’s why.
I’ve never written about this before but I think it’s time that I do.
This photo was taken in December 2015, sans sleep from the day before when I taped an episode of my show in Cebu, OPEN MIKE, with President Fidel V. Ramos as guest, during a private dinner with then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte. This was in the function room of Mesa Restaurant in SM Lanang, Davao City.
Months before this, before the President decided to run, an extremely wealthy relative of mine asked if I could broker talks with the Davao mayor because he is a distant relative through my grandmother Caridad Duterte Del Mar. I told the relative that I’m not close to him and had met him only a few times before but that I know his trusted aide, Bong Go, and maybe I could try to set a meeting through him.
At the time, I was for Grace Poe who I had worked with in the MTRCB (she’s bright, very nice, and full of promise) but also believed we needed someone like Digong at this point in our nation’s history; if only he finally decided to run, I thought to myself.
Then came the substitution. He was finally in the running. My problem then was how to tell Grace in person that I’ve decided to go for Digong. (Whatever your opinion is, that’s how I am. I will tell you to your face because I don’t want you finding out from other people that I’ve left you, or worse, that I was “namamangka sa dalawang ilog.” That is for cowards.)
I always find myself caught in the middle of things, of people. Telling Grace in person was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life; aside from the fact that she was still number one in the surveys then and could have very well become the next President of the Republic, I knew I would break her heart–someone who surely does not deserve it. It’s like breaking up with someone you still love, that’s probably the closest feeling. But Grace respected my decision which was so big, mature, and magnanimous of her, and so I love her even more.
But this dinner sealed the deal and made me an even stauncher believer of Digong. It helped give me the courage to decide to pick a side.
What happened in that dinner and who was in attendance?
There were only five people in that dinner I arranged with Bong Go: Digong, Bong, Honeylet, the representative of my wealthy relative, and me.
During the dinner, the representative of my wealthy relative (who I will not name because people might just miss the point) offered something most politicians won’t be able to refuse.
“Mayor, we will contribute Php2 billion to your campaign. This is all clean.”
I was shocked. My relative never said the representative would offer that. I would not have arranged it because I don’t like getting involved when people talk about money. Politics, strategy, analyzing intel, yes, sure, let’s talk. Money, gosh, that’s just bad news.
Turns out the son of a bitch representative was not authorized to offer anything of that sort, but just to assure candidate Duterte of the family’s unwavering support and the support of their vast network. The sleazy character used the name of his principal to try to curry favors with Mayor Duterte, but all of these I learned in hindsight when I went to my wealthy relative to frankly say I was embarrassed at that meeting because I was not told there was going to be an offer like that.
I’m not sure if my wealthy relative would have that much to contribute (I doubt it) but anyone hearing his/her representative offer that much would be inclined to believe it because this relative is really famous for being wealthy.
How did Digong react? Surprised. Nanlaki ang mata at the figure given.
“Oi! Ayaw lang… Sabihin mo kay ______, salamat. Pero ayaw lang.”
“Pero Mayor, gusto talaga mag bigay,” the rep insisted, all while I was still in shock at the offer and the breach of my trust. I don’t like being blindsided and this hustler did not brief me about it, to think I set up that dinner meeting.
“Ganito nalang, kung gusto niyo talaga, gawa nalang kayo ng sortie, ng rally, tapos punta nalang ako. Huwag niyo nang ibigay sa’kin ‘yung pera. Pero salamat ha.”
From shock… I was in awe. Here is a man being offered Php2 billion by the rep of someone who could very well afford it (and is expected to afford it).
At the time he didn’t know the rep was merely bluffing and using his principal’s reputation to achieve whatever selfish ends, so you’d take the offer at face value like I did, and any other politician offered that much by the rep of this particular person would’ve accepted it! My God, that’s 2 friggin’ billion!
Right there is when I witnessed Digong’s legendary integrity. To have said no to billions offered to him behind closed doors. Awesome, just awesome.
And so whatever people say, whatever Trillanes says, I will never believe because for me, Digong’s integrity is not just a story I was told, it’s not just a campaign ad, it’s something I experienced for myself. Firsthand. Behind closed doors.
There. I’ve said it. This is why.
Digong is not awful. He is awesome.
Credits to Mike Acebedo Lopez