News Release

Palace calls for probe into frigate deal issue

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Saturday, February 3, has called for an investigation into the multi-billion Navy frigate contract entered into by the previous administration with a Korean firm.

This is in connection with the statement of Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano saying that Hyundai Heavy Industries was banned to participate in state-led bids in South Korea due to the firm’s alleged bribery cases in other countries.

“Congressman Alejano, salamat po. Dahil sa iyong sinabi iimbestigahan na po natin yung inyong mga kakampi noong nakalipas na administrasyon,” the Palace spokesperson said in a Malacañang press briefing held in Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

“Kung totoo na blacklisted iyong binigyan nila ng kontrata, dapat managot iyong mga opisyales ng mga nakalipas na administrasyon at sabihin sa atin bakit naging ganoon ang kanilang naging desisyon,” Roque added, reiterating that the contract was already a done deal in the previous administration.

The Duterte administration, he said, merely performed a ministerial function in giving the Notice of Award to the winning bidder, pursuant to a provision of Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform law.

Meanwhile, the Palace spokesperson praised Ilocos Norte for being chosen by giant international cruise liner Star Cruises as a cruise destination.

“The Super Virgo, one of its luxury liners, can accommodate up to 2,800 passengers and 1,100 crew members. We’re confident that we can surpass last year’s 99,147 foreign travelers in Region I,” Roque said, citing the Accommodation Establishment Data of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

He also assured that the government, through the DOT, would assist in the building of a world-class port facility in Currimao, Ilocos Norte.

“Kung nagkaroon po tayo ng mas magandang puerto dito sa Currimao, we can expect more cruise liners to call on the Currimao port,” Roque added.

The Palace spokesperson, likewise, congratulated Ilocos for marking its 200th founding anniversary. He particularly noted the Broadway-like production of the Tan-ok ni Ilokano Festival in Laoag.

“That is one of the best festivals that I’ve ever witnessed, bordering on probably the best,” Roque said.

‘Palace clarifies remarks on protesting UP students, plight of lumads’

In the same press briefing, Roque clarified the President’s remarks to kick out protesting students of the University of the Philippines (UP) and replace them with bright lumad students.

The Palace spokesperson said it didn’t mean the President wanted to curtail their freedom of expression.

“Malinaw po ang sabi ni Presidente, ang tinututulan niya iyong walkout sa klase. Hindi po niya sinusupil ang karapatan ng malayang pananalita at saka ng karapatan ng peaceful assembly, puwede pong gawin iyan ng mga estudyante, ang tinututulan niya iyong walkout!” Roque stressed.

As a former professor in UP, Roque recalled that in UP there was this so-called maximum absence rule that if a student breached the maximum 20 percent allowance, the student would be automatically “dropped from the rolls”.

“So ang sinasabi lang ng Presidente, huwag naman natin sayangin iyong mga pera ng sambayanan na ginugol natin para sa free tuition ng lahat ng State Universities and Colleges,” Roque explained.

Speaking of the lumads, Roque said that the statements made by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, saying the government violated the rights of the lumads, was baseless.

“Lilinawin po namin, ang lahat po ng datos ay nagpapakita na ang nagsasamantala sa mga lumads ay NPA (New People’s Army). Sapilitan po silang ginagawang miyembro ng NPA. Ginagawang mga mandirigma at kawawang-kawawa po ang mga lumad,” Roque stressed.

He said the President understood very well the plight of those cultural minorities in Mindanao.

“(A)lam niya, na ang number one problema ng lumad ay kahirapan. Kaya naman sinabi niya baka mamaya papasukin natin nga iyong mga namumuhunan na magkaroon ng trabaho at mabawasan ang pagkagutom diyan sa mga Lumad communities,” Roque said.

“Kapag nagkaroon po ng mas malawakang mga trabaho diyan sa mga komunidad ng Lumads, mababawasan na rin iyong impluwensiya ng NPA. At sa ganoon po, hindi na sapilitan na kukunin ng mga NPA iyong mga Lumads at gagawing mga mandirigma,” he added.

Meanwhile, Roque gladly announced that the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed a record-low 6.1 percent victims of common crimes.

The annual average for property crimes was, likewise, at record-low at 5.6 percent, the lowest in 28 years, he added.

Roque underscored that this current public sentiment validates the success of the Duterte administration’s anti-drug and anti-crime campaigns.

“We vow to continue our efforts to maintain a crime-free community, and we extend our thanks to the community for their unrelenting support,” he assured. ### PCO-Content