FORMER Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado on Monday cleared Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go, of any involvement in the P15.7-billion frigate deal between the Philippine Navy (PN) and a South Korean firm.
Mercado, in a prepared statement read during the hearing by Senate Committee on National Defense and Security said that Go never made any move to influence hid decision-making regarding the procurement of the Combat Management System (CMS) from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).
“Secretary Bong Go neither approached me to inquire about the frigate acquisition project nor did he make any form of communication to influence my decision-making as the end user and flag office-in-command of the Philippine Navy,” said Mercado.
Mercado was relieved from his post upon orders of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on December, 2017.
Mercado said his removal from his post was not because of insubordination and maintained that he never disobeyed any legal order from his superiors in his military.
The Senate on Monday opened its investigation into the frigate deal amid allegations that Go intervened in the negotiations for the contract.
Aside from Go, his colleagues in the Cabinet were on hand to show their support. They are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd, Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson. Actor Robin Padilla was also present in the hearing.
Opposition senators filed a resolution calling for an inquiry on the acquisition of two missile-capable frigates as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s modernization program.
Go said he was innocent and had nothing to do with the contract. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, MELRIC DIONISIO