Duterte appoints Empedrad as Navy chief

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte has formally appointed Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad as flag officer in command (FOIC) of the Philippine Navy, replacing Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado who was relieved from the post last December.

Empedrad, who served as acting Navy chief since Mercado's relief last December 19, has been recommended to the post by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines (SFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

The President approved Empedrad's appointment on Tuesday.

Earlier, Lorenzana said he relieved Mercado due to "loss of confidence in his integrity and leadership" and the latter's questionable intention over the former FOIC's fixation with a specific company for the combat management system (CMS) for the acquisition of frigates."

At that time, Empedrad was the Frigate Project Technical Working Group chairman.

Special Assistant to the President Christopher Bong Go was also dragged in the controversy surrounding the CMS, accused of allegedly intervening in the multi-billion Navy project.

Go categorically denied the allegations, while both Lorenzana and Mercado cleared him of the accusations.

Source: Philippine News Agency