Lorenzana cites reasons for Mercado’s relief

MANILA Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday cited usurpation of authority, insubordination, and violation of the procurement law as reasons for the relief of Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado from his post as Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command.

Lorenzana made the statement during the House probe into Mercado's relief over the PHP16-billion frigate acquisition project (FAP).

He said Mercado committed three violations in connection with the frigate deal, noting that he had "lost trust and confidence in his ability to lead the Philippine Navy."

Lorenzana said Mercado's insistence on Thales Tacticos as the supplier of the combat management system violates a provision of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act as the law prohibits the specification of a brand.

He added that Mercado's side trip to the Netherlands to visit Thales is against the no-contact policy of the procurement law.

Lorenzana also accused Mercado of usurpation of authority and insubordination, noting that the FAP's implementation has become the "sole responsibility of the Secretary of Defense."

"How can you continue to have confidence and trust on a leader who interferes in a legally binding contract, usurped your authority and defy your orders?" he said.

Lorenzana stressed that there is no issue in the FAP and "it should have moved smoothly" except for Mercado's insistence in the acquisition of CMS of Thales.

"The frigate project was conducted above-board and I will ensure that it will continue that way until the two frigates are delivered to the Philippine Navy in accordance with the contract agreement," he said.

The frigates, along with their weapons system and munitions, are covered by a contract worth PHP18 billion signed by Lorenzana in October 2016.

Source: Philippine News Agency