• Palace confident Presidential Assistant Bong Go can prove innocence in Senate probe on frigate deal


    MALACANANG is confident that Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go can prove his innocence in next week’s Senate hearing into the controversial deal to acquire frigates for the Philippine Navy.

    “I’m sure (SAP Go can prove his innocence),” Palace spokesman Harry Roque told The Manila Times in a text message.

    Go has been accused of interfering in the military procurement contract, particularly in the selection of the supplier of the combat management system of the ships.

    But President Rodrigo Duterte’s top aide has denied the allegation and expressed readiness to appear before a congressional inquiry to clear his name.

    Roque insisted that Go could not have meddled in the contract, which was finalized during the previous administration.

    “[A] Senate investigation is a welcome move to determine if [the]Aquino government committed any anomalies in the bidding,” he said, referring to the administration of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    Meanwhile, Roque said President Duterte would likely watch Go’s testimony in the Senate inquiry because he was interested.

    “I would think so. He would be very curious as to what will happen to that hearing. I’m sure it will be televised,” Roque said, when asked if the President would watch the Senate’s proceedings on Monday.

    To show support for a fellow public servant, Roque said he would also accompany Go to the Senate next week.

    The President asked Go to press for an “open and transparent” Senate inquiry into the military contract.

    Duterte said Go should oppose any move for an executive session that would be closed to the public.

    “There’s a planned Senate investigation. He was told, ‘It’s fine since it’s an executive session anyway,'” Duterte said during The Manila Times business forum in Davao City.

    “I said, ‘Don’t do it, Bong. Demand an open and transparent public hearing… Don’t agree to a secret meeting there. It should be face-to-face,'” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE


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