Duterte’s top aide denies intervening in choice of Navy supplier
Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday denied intervening in the selection of a weapons system supplier for the Philippine Navy’s P15.7-billion warship program.
Go said he never intervened in the project, which opposition Rep. Gary Alejano blamed for the relief of Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado last month.
“I have not intervened in the procurement of DND (Department of National Defense) of its computer system for its ships. I have not participated nor intervened, directly or indirectly, in the transactions of DND,” Go said in a statement.
“Further, I even have no information nor knowledge of the said transaction. Clarification on the issues should be addressed to (Defense Secretary Delfin) Lorenzana.”
President Rodrigo Duterte said he would ask Go to resign if there was evidence against him.
“If you can find I will ask Bong to resign tomorrow, if he did intervene even for one word,” Mr. Duterte said.
But he defended Go, describing his longtime aide as a “billionaire.”
Alejano said on Monday that Mercado was relieved last month because he did not approve of the weapons system of a South Korean contractor that allegedly had the Palace’s backing.
Documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that Go gave a letter to Lorenzana that assailed the Navy’s preference for the Tacticos combat management system made by Thales Nederland while highlighting the advantages of choosing the naval shield integrated combat management system of the South Korean Hanwha Thales Co. for two frigates ordered by the Navy from Hanwha Heavy Industries.
Lorenzana stuck a Post It on the letter with a note, dated Jan. 12, 2017, telling Mercado to rebut it.
“To Admiral Mercado,” Lorenzana wrote on a Post It. “Ronald, This was given to me by Bong Go. Go over it and prepare a report/rebuttal to be submitted to the Pres.”
“Why should the Navy explain to Secretary Bong Go why Tacticos Thales was chosen despite the lobby for Hanwha systems?” Alejano said.
“Does Secretary Bong Go know the technical specifications and needs of the Navy more than it, which did thorough research on the frigate?” he added.
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