PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte defended his top aide, Christopher “Bong” Go, following reports that he interfered with the Philippine Navy’s procurement of frigates as part of the military’s modernization program.
Speaking to reporters in Pasay City on Tuesday, Duterte said Go was a billionaire who has no knowledge of internal military matters.
“He (Go) is not a military man and he interferes [with]what? You think you can convince (Defense Secretary Delfin) Lorenzana and the guys there, you can bribe them or would think sila papayag na kami and magbribe (they will allow us to bribe them) the way I talk, the way I’ve been firing people,” Duterte said during a press conference.
“Where did you get the idea that he can intervene. Where is his signature, where is your statement, and where is even your point of reference….Alam mo di ako magyabang pero bilyonaryo ito, sa totoo lang buti andyan kayo. Punta kayo ng Davao tanungin ninyo kung sino yan. Itong mga ganito, it seems to appear he’s intervening because of what? Money? The things that you are telling, it never happened,” he said.
The President said he would fire Go if there would be evidence that he intervened in the procurement.
“Find a way na nagsasabi ka ng totoo (that you’re telling the truth). Come here I’ll give it to you. And if you can find [one], I will ask Bong Go to resign tomorrow. Work on it tonight. Let me know tomorrow, I will fire him if he indeed intervened even with one word,” he said.
Duterte issued the statement following reports that the Palace, through Go, discussed the Navy’s combat management systems (CMS) with the Department of National Defense (DND), contesting the Navy’s preference for the Tacticos CMS provided by Holland-based Thales Nederlands, Inc.
Go allegedly insisted on procuring warships from South Korea’s Hanwha Thales Company Ltd.’s Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management System.
The CMS is the command and control center of many advanced surface vessels and submarines.
But Go, in a statement sent to reporters on Tuesday, denied any involvement or any politicking concerning the Navy’s CMS selection process.
“I have not intervened in the procurement of DND of its computer system for its ships. I have neither participated nor intervened, directly or indirectly, in the transactions of DND,” Go said.
“I even have no information or knowledge of the said [deal],” Duterte’s top aide said.