MANILA — Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher ‘Bong’ Go never asked anything about the Philippine Navy’s PHP18-billion Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP).
This, according to former Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Ronaldo Joseph Mercado, in an interview Wednesday.
“This morning, my attention was caught by the reports when I saw a piece of paper, a ‘post it’, with my name on it, about an instruction given to me by the Secretary of National Defense about the Frigate, and apparently because of that there were insinuations about Secretary Bong Go, and you know I just like to come out because, on my side when I was FOIC (flag officer in command), he never once, with so many times, we were together in many foreign navy ships, and there was never an instance, not once that he even asked me about the frigate, never, and kaya when I’m hearing the news, well on my side only, he never intervened much more talk to me about these things,” he said.
It can be recalled that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana relieved Mercado from his post last Dec. 18, 2017, citing loss of trust and confidence on the integrity and leadership of the naval officer.
This stemmed from the alleged fixation of the former on one company to supply the combat management system (CMS) of the country’s Frigate project, a contract won by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries.
“Let me rephrase Secretary Bong Go never directly mentioned to me anything about the Frigate or indirectly from another person, I never heard any other person mention the name of Secretary Bong Go in relation to the frigates, walang ganun.” Mercado said when asked on whether Lorenzana told or ordered him to do something about the FAP, upon the alleged orders of the SAP.
The FAP is one of the key pieces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program at it seeks to provide the country with the capability to deal with air, surface and sub-surface threats.
It will be armed with a variety of missiles and guns capable of defeating such threats. PNA-northboundasia.com