SAN JUAN  CITY – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go announced here his withdrawal from the presidential race.

Go, a longtime aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, declared during the National Heroes Day rites at the historic Battle of Pinaglabanan site that his family really does not want him to run from the start.

Go read a statement on his withdrawal before reporters covering the rites and was aired live over DZRH radio-television.

He said he is withdrawing from the race to spare President Duterte from further troubles, adding that it is not yet time for him to run for president.

Go said he was removing himself from the presidential race because he did not want to add to Duterte’s problems.

“Ayoko ko rin pong lalong maipit si Pangulong Duterte. Higit pa po sa tatay ang pagmamahal ko sa kanya,” Go told reporters.

“Matanda na po siya at marami na rin siyang naibigay para sa bayan kaya ayaw ko na pong dagdagan pa ang kaniyang problema (I do not want to President Duterte to be caught in the middle. My love for him is more than that of a father. He is already old and has given so much to the country, so I don’t want to increase his problems.), Go added.

He admitted that he was hesitant to run for president from the start as he has been body, heart and mind have been contradicting his own action.

With his withdrawal, the Duterte administration is left without a presidential candidate and also a vice presidential candidate.

The presidential race will now be confined to Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagoso, Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Panfilo Lacson and labor leader Leody de Guzman.

Senator Go was expected to inform officially the Commission on Elections of his withdrawal from the presidential race.

The withdrawal came almost a week after he admitted in Antipolo city that he was still waiting for “a sign from God” on whether or not he should push through with his presidential bid.

“In the past few days, I realized in my heart and my mind are contradicting my actions. Talagang nagre-resist po ang aking katawan, puso, at isipan. Tao lang po ako, nasasaktan at napapagod din,” Go said in San Juan.

“Sa ngayon po, ‘yun ang mga rason ko. That is why I am withdrawing from the race,” he added.

Before getting elected senator in 2019, Go served as special assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte. He also served Duterte while he was Davao city mayor, vice mayor and congressman.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said he will not refuse President Duterte’s endorsement if the latter chooses to back his presidential bid.

The mayor made the statement after Duterte’s chosen successor, Sen.  Go, announced he is withdrawing his candidacy for president in the 2022 elections.

“Life must go on, tuloy ang buhay,” Domagoso said about Go’s withdrawal.