By Ryan Ponce Pacpaco | Journal News Online
WITH the May 9 elections only three weeks away, Malacañang should consider offering a Presidential Security Group (PSG) team to former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is widely favored by voters to become the country’s next chief executive, Rep. Michael “Mike” Defensor (Anakalusugan) said on Sunday.
“Of all the major presidential candidates, only Bongbong does not have any personal protection extended by the government because he is not a current officeholder,” Defensor, who is Marcos Jr.’s anointed candidate for Quezon City mayor, said in a statement on Sunday.
“The problem with our setup here is that if you are not an incumbent official and you run for president or vice president, you have no government protection at all, unlike in the United States,” Defensor said.
“In America, all presidential and vice-presidential candidates – whether they are current officeholders or not – are automatically safeguarded by the U.S. Secret Service, the same agency defending their sitting president against potential harm or attack,” Defensor pointed out.
Although Marcos Jr. previously served as a senator for six years and as Ilocos Norte governor for nine years, he is not a current officeholder.
“The Palace should at least offer to provide Bongbong a small PSG team. It is up to him if he accepts or declines the offer,” Defensor said.
“We are not worried about presidential candidate Leni Robredo’s personal safety because she already enjoys official protection as the sitting vice president,” Defensor said.
Defensor is running for Quezon City mayor against Robredo’s ally, Joy Belmonte.
“We are also not worried about presidential candidates Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson Sr. who are incumbent senators and have bodyguards paid for by the Senate,” Defensor said.
Vice presidential candidate Vicente Sotto III, the current Senate President, likewise enjoys bodyguards paid for by the Senate, according to Defensor.
“Even presidential candidate Isko Moreno enjoys some official protection given that he is the sitting mayor of Manila, so we are also not that worried about him,” Defensor said.
Defensor also said that he is not worried about Marcos Jr.’s vice-presidential running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara “Inday” Duterte, who is covered by the PSG’s protective shield as daughter of the sitting president.
The PSG is the primary agency tasked with providing close-in security and escort to the President and the Vice President, their immediate families, former Presidents and Vice Presidents as well as visiting heads of state.
In the March 17-21 Pulse Asia survey, Marcos Jr. held on to his huge lead in the presidential race. He is favored by 56 percent of the voters, whereas Robredo is favored by only 24 percent.
In a separate March 17-22 poll by Laylo Research Strategies, Marcos Jr. fared even better. He is preferred by 61 percent of the voters, whereas Robredo is preferred by only 19 percent.