Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go did not intervene in the Navy frigate deal issue, the Palace spokesperson declared on Monday, February 19.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. made the remark in his regular press briefing in Malacañang after he attended an inquiry where Secretary Go appeared before the Senate probing the frigates acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.
Roque added there was already a decision that the Hanwha system will be used.
“Now ang mga pinag-uusapan po ngayon dyan is iyong CMS kung bakit ang nilagay ay Korean samantalang ang gusto daw ng mga taga-Navy ay iyong Tacticos. Pero nilinaw naman po iyan, na by the time we entered into the contract, hindi na po magkapareho ang presyo ng Hanwha at saka ng Tacticos,” Roque stressed.
According to Roque, there was no price difference in the Tacticos CMS made by Thales of The Netherlands and the CMS of South Korean company Hanwha Systems at the time of the Submission and Opening of Bid Envelopes (SOBE).
“However, that offer was good only for 120 days. There was a four-month delay when we entered into the contract; and therefore, the price guarantee, which was only good for 120 days, did not bind the supplier. By the time the contract was signed, there was already a confirmed price increase of 7-million dollars each for the two frigates,” Roque explained.
“Nag-expire na po iyong guaranteed price na in-offer ng Hyundai. And by the time, we had entered into the contract, they were not bound by the same price,” he added.
The Senate is investigating the allegations that Go tried to intervene in the acquisition of the combat management system (CMS) for the two frigates that are under contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).
“(A)lthough the hearing is still ongoing, it’s very clear that no less than former FOIC Mercado cleared SAP Go from any involvement in this frigate deal,” Roque said, referring to former Philippine Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado.
“He (Mercado) affirmed before the Senate that SAP Go has not had any opportunity to communicate with him at any time at all on this frigate deal,” he added.
Almost all Malacañang-based Cabinet members voluntarily went to the Senate hearing to show their support and solidarity to Go.
“Hindi lang solidarity, I guess, it’s a manifestation. Our way of communicating that we have nothing to hide,” Roque underscored.
‘Negosyo loans for soldiers’
In the same press briefing, the Palace spokesperson gladly announced the granting of business loans to soldiers wounded in action (WIA) and families of soldiers killed in action (KIA).
The loan program is under the government’s overall Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program.
“It is a special Php50-million loan package of the President where soldiers will be able to borrow a total of Php100,000 or less, which are interest-free if fully-paid within two years. Beyond the two-year term, borrowers will only have a 2 percent annual interest rate,” Roque said.
He added the DTI has already released loans worth Php902,000 to 13 WIA/KIA beneficiaries as of February 9 of this year. ### PCO- Content