Palace welcomes frigate deal probe; Roque, Go to attend hearing

MANILA -- Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday expressed optimism that Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go's participation in the Senate probe on the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) will end speculation of the latter's alleged involvement in the controversial deal.

Together with Go, Roque confirmed his attendance and of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and another Cabinet member.

"Expect Secretary Go to tell all, and as instructed by the President, he would likely demand for an open and transparent Senate inquiry to show that he -- and the administration -- has nothing to hide as he would squarely answer questions, in full view of the public," the official said in a statement.

Go was accused to have intervened in the FAP contract worth PHP18 billion, including its weapon systems and munitions. He earlier denied the allegation, saying he was unfairly dragged into the mess.

Malacanang and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have also cleared Go of the accusations, reiterating that allegations hurled against him are "untrue and unfounded."

Roque insists that the project was completed during the term of then President Benigno Aquino III and was just signed on October 24, 2016 during the Duterte administration.

"It was the Aquino administration which chose Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) as supplier of the two frigates, including the supply of the boat, the navigation, the communications, and the combat management systems (CMS)," Roque said.

"It was also during the previous administration that Hyundai was declared the responsive bidder and awarded the two frigates, including the CMS," he added.

In a radio interview, Roque said the administration signed the notice of award pursuant to the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

When the document arrived at Lorenzana's office, Roque said the defense chief consulted all of his lawyers and even the Philippine Navy officers.

"At dahil wala ngang balakid at sang-ayon sa batas, dapat pirmahan na iyan (And because there is no legal impediment, that should be signed)," he said.

Meanwhile, he cleared that Go's non-involvement in the deal does not mean there's a higher official in the Duterte administration that needs to be held accountable.

"Wala na talagang partisipasyon si SAP Bong Go o kahit sino man sa administrasyon na ito na baguhin pa iyong isang proyekto na na-awardna sa isang bidder noong nakalipas na administrasyon (SAP Bong Go or anyone from this administration has no involvement in changing a project that was already awarded to a bidder by the previous administration)," he said.

The official believes that the whole truth is for everyone to digest.

"Asahan na bukas ay lalabas at lalabas na ang pagkakasangkot kay SAP Go ay kuryente lamang, o pekeng balita na pilit na inuugnay sa administrasyon (Expect tomorrow that the alleged involvement of SAP Bong Go is nothing but fake news which is forcibly being linked to the administration)," Roque added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency