Cabinet in full force at Senate for Duterte aide

President Duterte’s closest aide Christopher ‘Bong’ Go faces supporters outside the Senate before the start of the probe on the Navy frigate deal yesterday. Edd Gumban

Cabinet in full force at Senate for Duterte aide

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — Palace officials were there in full force to support Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go during yesterday’s Senate hearing on the issues surrounding the procurement of the weapons system for Navy warships.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque admitted that almost all colleagues of Go in Malacañang were present at the inquiry, which stemmed from the allegation that the presidential aide meddled with the procurement.

“All I can say is wala po talagang natira sa (no one was left in) Malacañang. They are in the Senate and for good reason. We, the Malacañang-based secretaries, are the only ones seeing each other here. So it’s natural that if one faces an issue, we would show our support,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Roque said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo was the only Malacañang-based secretary who was absent during the hearing.

Aside from Roque, other Palace secretaries who were present during the meeting were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco.

Officials from other agencies were also spotted during the hearing, including Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office board member Sandra Cam, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Energy Regulatory Commission chair Agnes Devanadera and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chair Andrea Domingo.

During the hearing, Sen. Francis Escudero asked Go in jest who was left in Malacañang with the President, to which the presidential aide replied: “Siya lang po. Siya lang mag-isa (He is the only one there).”

Roque said President Duterte did not instruct the officials to attend the hearing.

“There were none (orders). We went there voluntarily. I feel that to give this press briefing is really my main job, that’s why I came back to do the briefing. But I’m going back to show my solidarity with Go,” the spokesman said.

Some pro-Duterte groups held a rally outside the Senate to express support for Go, who has been working as Duterte’s aide for decades.

The Presidential Photographers Division, close-in photographers of the President, also released pictures of Go’s attendance in the Senate.

Before the hearing, Roque and Andanar granted interviews to several radio stations to defend Go from allegations that he has a special interest in the frigates project.

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