Palace clears Go in frigate issue
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Malacañang on Thursday said that an internal investigation showed that the allegations against Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong Go” on the multi-billion frigate project of the Philippine Navy were not true.
“An investigation has been conducted and it has been found that the allegations of Rappler are untrue and unfounded,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said at a briefing in Legazpi City, Albay.
According to reports from online news site Rappler, Go allegedly “intervened” in the selection of the combat management system (CMS) of the two warships.
Go has categorically denied the accusation, while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado have backed him up.
Mercado has been earlier relieved as Navy Chief over issues related to the CMS.
Roque reiterated that there was no way Go could have intervened in the acquisition of the two frigates, including the CMS, because the project was already awarded by the Philippine government during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.
“So again, I’d like to debunk the claim of Rappler that this combat system was procured separately from the frigates; hindi po. IyongPHP15.7 billion na binili po nating frigates includes already this combat system,” he said.
“And because this was already awarded to Hyundai, it was really futile on the part of anyone, including Secretary Bong Go, to intervene because at that point the winning bidder Hyundai had already specified kung ano po iyong ilalagay na combat system sa barkong naibili na natin. So malinaw po iyan,” Roque said.
The Palace spokesperson said Rappler’s allegation against Go “appears to be defense by way of an offense,” noting how the allegations surfaced immediately after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declared that Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings violated the ownership rules of the Constitution on mass media companies.
“So it appears that the best defense is an offense. But as you know former FOIC of the Navy Mercado has issued a statement stating categorically that SAP Bong Go never intervened in connection with the frigate project. Likewise, we have a clarification already issued by Secretary Lorenzana that the white paper was not handed to him by Secretary Bong Go,” Roque said. (PNA)