In this Oct. 5, 2017, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, listens to Special Assistant to the President Christopher Bong Go, during a change of command ceremony in Fort Bonifacio in, Taguig city, east of Manila, Philippines. Late Friday, Duterte says he's asked his finance secretary to reject an unspecified British financial aid package and that he's ready to lose diplomatic ties with all European countries critical of his deadly anti-drug crackdown.
AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File
Bong Go denies hand in Navy frigate procurement
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) - January 16, 2018 - 6:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go on Tuesday denied that he dipped his hands into the Philippine Navy's procurement of frigates as part of the military's modernization program.

In a statement, Go denied that he had information or knowledge of the procurement of the combat management system of the Navy for its ships. He added that he had not intervened in the procurement of the Department of National Defense of the computer system for its frigates.

"I have not participated nor intervened, directly or indirectly, in the transactions of DND. Clarification on the issues should be addressed to SND Lorenzana," Go said, referring to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

In a privilege speech at the House of Representatives on Monday, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) wondered why Malacañang got involved in the issue which could have resulted in the relief of former Navy Flag Officer in Command Ronald Joseph Mercado.

Alejano said that the removal of the chief of a major service of the military could not be done without the knowledge or imprimatur of President Rodrigo Duterte.

He asked who might be backing Hyundai Heavy Industries in the presidential palace despite its failure to follow the specifications of the Navy for the equipment it was procuring. He also wondered if some unscrupulous people had already benefitted from the questionable deal.

"Why should the Navy explain to Sec. Bong Go (special assistant to the president) why Thales Tacticos was chosen despite the lobby for Hanwha Systems? Does Sec. Bong Go know the technical specifications and needs of the Navy more than it which did thorough research on the frigate?" Alejano said.

Alejano said that the violations of HHI could imperil the modernization program of the Armed Forces and the country's national security.

He also urged the House to investigate the issue to strengthen the country's procurement rules and save the AFP's modernization program and the country's national interest.

"I am appealing to the leadership of this august chamber to schedule a hearing in relation to the Frigate Acquisition Project controversy. I have filed numerous resolutions in the past but were not acted upon because you see me as an opposition but let me remind our dear colleagues from the majority that the armed forces is not only my armed forces, but also your armed forces," Alejano said.

According to Alejano, Mercado might have been removed following his stance in the P18-billion contract. The lawmaker said that the former Navy chief was relieved from office so its Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee would accept HHI's design which failed to follow the specifications to the contract.

Alejano, a former Marine and Navy officer, said that the DND insisted on using the CMS, which integrates the weapons, sensors, communication and navigation systems of a ship, of Hanwha Systems of South Korea despite the Navy's preference for the system of Thales Tacticos of Netherlands.

He said that Thales Tacticos had a better record, more advanced systems and more experience in marine defense systems.

GARY ALEJANO NAVY
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