MALACANANG welcomed on Friday the Senate’s move to look into the controversial acquisition of two Philippine Navy frigates amid reports that President Rodrigo Duterte’s close aide Christopher “Bong” Go supposedly “intervened” in the project.
“[The] Senate investigation is a welcome move to determine if Aquino government committed any anomalies in the bidding,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a text message sent to reporters.
Opposition senators have filed Senate Resolution 584 directing the committee on national defense and security, as well as the congressional oversight committee on the Armed Forces of the Modernization (AFP) Act, to conduct the investigation.
They said the resolution seeks to determine whether the acquisition of the frigates “promotes the goals of the modernization program and complies with pertinent laws.”
The purchase of frigates was initiated during the administration of president Benigno Aquino 3rd.
But the minority bloc said the contract was signed under the Duterte administration and was among the biggest items in the AFP modernization program.
Roque insisted that procurement of frigate was a done deal, having been finalized during the Aquino administration.
“It was (the) Aquino admin that undertook the bidding and chosen the winning bidder,” Roque said. “This administration only issued the notice of award, which was ministerial.”
Earlier this week, reports said that Go “intervened” in the selection of the combat management systems (CMS). He has denied the allegation.
Duterte also defended Go, saying his close aide was even willing to resign if the reports were proven true.
Meanwhile, Roque claimed that the Palace had conducted an investigation, which showed that the allegations against Go were “untrue and unfounded.”
“An investigation has been conducted and it has been found that the allegations of Rappler are untrue and unfounded,” Roque said, referring to news website Rappler’s report alleging that Go had “intervened” in the selection of the CMS.
Roque said the Rappler story was the news site’s “defense by way of offense,” noting how it was published in the wake of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to revoke its incorporation papers.
When asked whether he saw a destabilization plot behind the allegations against Go, Roque said only Rappler came out with the story,
“Rappler lang naman po ang naglabas niyan, so better ask Rappler. They would know better,” he said.