Anytime Fitness branch under fire for promoting Duterte assistant Bong Go on Facebook

Photo: Facebook user Mai Oh Mai
Photo: Facebook user Mai Oh Mai

(UPDATED), 1st UPDATE. A local branch of international gym chain Anytime Fitness is being slammed online after it pledged support on Facebook for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Special Assistant Bong Go.

The post in question appeared on the page of Anytime Fitness’ branch in El Pueblo Real, a commercial center in Ortigas, Pasig City.

It has since been taken down from the page, but several netizens have shared screenshots showing photos of the gym’s staff wearing green baller bands with Go’s name.

The post’s caption read: “Anytime Fitness Ortigas El Pueblo supports SAP (Special Assistant to the President) Bong Go. Get your free ballers now!” It also included the hashtags #BongGoForSenator #LetsGoBongGo, and #ReadySetGo.

Go has not confirmed whether or not he will run for a Senate seat in next year’s elections. However, he has been under fire in recent months after several campaign materials with his name were seen being distributed.

Last month, he denied his involvement in the distribution of cellphones branded with his slogan. In June, a jingle about him by a popular rap group also went viral.

Technically, Go isn’t allowed to campaign just yet. Next year’s midterm elections, which will elect senators along with other government positions, will be held in May, but the official campaign period will only start in February.

Anytime Fitness’ post brought so many negative comments that the gym issued an apology yesterday.

It reads: “In light of recent events, Anytime Fitness El Pueblo is officially apologizing to everyone affected by our recent post, especially our members and our greater Anytime Fitness franchise family.

“It was not our intention to alienate or isolate any part of our community or to make anyone feel unwelcome in our home.

“Anytime Fitness prides itself on being a place for everyone to get to a healthier place, without any affiliation to politics, religion, and any other issue.

“The post has since been taken down and we promise to improve our services to you.”

Some netizens took the apology well but many are still up in arms about the issue.

Facebook user Tina Cruz Mateo said in a mix of Filipino and English: “Apology accepted. Honestly was set on going today but lost energy [because of the post]. Next time be more sensitive and prudent in your moves. Every action has a consequence and this one am sure was an expensive one!”

Ino Habana said something all companies should take note of.

“Thanks. FYI, we actually pay attention to your brand values. If your values dont (sic) match our own, then #byefelicia,” he said. 

Araceli Socorro was more sarcastic: “Can I roll my eyes? I feel trust has been breached.”

Leo Mance De Ocampo offered up some tips for social media management.

“Each of your employees can be an ambassador for your business. Educate them to have a clear social-media policy, when using your corporate social media accounts and instruct them to be thoughtful about voicing their political thoughts and opinions,” he said.

While Noel Escondo said something very true for all viral posts. “But [the] internet won’t forget.”

In a statement sent to Coconuts Manila by PR agency M2.0, Anytime Fitness Philippines Country Manager Ryan Cheal said that they are “deeply saddened” by the incident and that they have “no affiliation to any platform, political or otherwise.”

He also said that “The club is taking responsibility for this lapse in judgement” and that they have spoken with the Anytime Fitness El Pueblo, Ortigas branch about the incident.

Coconuts Manila has reached out to Anytime Fitness Ortigas but had not gotten a reply as of posting.

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