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Bong Go acquits himself in Senate probe

/ 05:01 AM February 20, 2018

From where I sit, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go was a victim of what we in the journalism profession call “news slant” after he acquitted himself at the Senate hearing yesterday.

He blamed the Inquirer, my newspaper, and Rappler, an online news agency, for the unfair reporting on his supposed interference in the Navy frigate deal (See Inquirer’s official statement on this issue on Page 4).

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As I wrote in this column earlier, what Go did was to just send a communication to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana about a complaint from a defeated bidder that the frigate deal was attended by irregularity.

As head of the Presidential Management Staff, Go goes over thousands of letters meant for the President which he then passes on to various agencies in the executive department.

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Go couldn’t have brokered for another supplier in the contract to buy the Navy ships even if he wanted to because it was already a done deal.

If there’s anybody to blame for the whole mess, it’s Lorenzana because he said Malacañang was looking at the frigates deal with interest because Go sent him a communication.

The journalists who picked up the story took Lorenzana’s note to the Philippine Navy as meddling from Malacañang.

Perhaps journalists could learn a lesson from the Navy frigate episode: That what is apparent on the surface may not always be true.

After presenting a power-point presentation at the Senate hearing, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV left and didn’t come back.

Trillanes’ accusation that Go — and by extension, the President — meddled in the frigate deal for personal gain fell flat after no less than Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado, former Navy flag officer in command, exonerated the presidential aide.

Mercado was relieved because of the supposed frigate mess.

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Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of those who attended the hearing and a longtime friend of Go, vouched for his integrity.

Zubiri told the Senate defense and national security committee headed by Sen. Gregorio Honasan that when Go was personal assistant to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, he never heard of any complaint against Go concerning money.

* * *

Michael Tan, president and CEO of the Lucio Tan Group Inc., wrote to say that getting a four-star status for Philippine Airlines (PAL) was a “team effort.”

Tan was reacting to the item in this space on Thursday that PAL was now in the same category as Air France, British Airways, United Airlines and American Airlines, among others.

PAL’s success was due to the leadership of the younger Tan.

“Sir, thank you for your kind words. But the success of getting the four-star rating was a team effort with the foresight of my father, Dr. Lucio Tan, the management team led by Jimmy Bautista (PAL president) and the men and women of PAL. They worked hard for it.”

Humility, a trait that father and son both have, is a mark of great men.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, Bong Go, Christopher Go, Delfin Lorenzana, Frigate Acquisition Projects, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Lucio Tan, Michael Tan, Navy warships, On Target, Philippine Airlines, Ramon Tulfo, Ronald Joseph Mercado
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