THE controversy over the frigate acquisition project linking President Rodrigo Duterte’s top aide is part of destabilization efforts against the administration, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
In an interview over state-run Radyo Pilipinas, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said he got information from his former “consultant” in Congress and a “public relations practitioner” that there was a “major destab effort” linked to the frigate deal, which included discrediting the government through Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go.
“So sa tingin ko ito na iyong destab na sinasabi nila (I think this is the start of the destabilization they mentioned),” Roque said.
Asked to elaborate, Roque said that it was possible that the news articles about the frigate deal were part of efforts to “discredit” the government.
“Puwede ko ring sabihin iyon, na ang mga issues na binabato ngayon sa administrasyon nagkakasabay-sabay at nagpapakita na parang may hirit na naman na i-discredit itong ating administrasyon (I can also say, issues being thrown at the administration simultaneously show that there is what seems to be efforts to discredit this administration),” he said.
According to reports from online news site Rappler, Go allegedly “intervened” in the selection of the combat management system (CMS) of the two warships.
Go has categorically denied the accusation, while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado have backed him up. Mercado was relieved as Navy Chief over issues related to the CMS.
Roque said Rappler’s allegation against Go appeared to be “defense by way of an offense,” noting how the allegations surfaced immediately after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declared that Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings violated the ownership rules of the Constitution on mass media.
“Apparently in an effort to make their money-making scheme, which the SEC declared violative of the Constitution, a press freedom issue, they have resorted to offense as a best defense and that’s why it was Rappler, the Rappler reporter that brought up the issue here, as far as I am concerned, for the first time,” he said.
Roque also reiterated that there was no way Go could have intervened in the acquisition of the two frigates, including the CMS, because the project had been awarded by the Philippine government during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“The issue involving Secretary Bong Go, first, the contract was already a done deal during the Aquino administration. Second, if there are complaints, the Palace always gives attention to all complaints. We never set it aside,” Roque said.
“I feel strongly for this issue, because I similarly situated, dahil wala kaming mga portfolio, all that we can do is to refer any and all complaints to the line agencies; at iyon naman po ang ginawa ni Secretary Bong Go at ng kanyang opisina (and that’s what Secretary Bong Go and his office is doing),” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE