Truth will come out in Senate frigate hearing: PN chief

MANILA — Nothing but the truth will come out in the Senate’s hearing on the Frigate Acquisition Program (FAP) Monday.

This was disclosed by Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Rear Admiral Robert Empedrad Saturday when asked on what he expects to come out during the investigations.

“Very good. At least the truth will come out,” he added.

The PN chief also emphasized that there is no anomaly in the FAP contract which amounted to PHP18 billion including its weapon systems and munitions.

Empedrad also stressed that Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go did not intervene in the project.

“Tomorrow (Monday), the interview will be about that item. Tingin ko naman walang anomalya, walang problema. (I think there is no anomaly or problem.) No intervention,” the PN chief stressed.

Earlier, Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano claimed that FAP project was riddled with questionable issues and that its design was altered from the original.

This includes the alleged preference for the Hanwha combat management system (CMS), the lawmaker said.

Aside from this, there are claims that Go allegedly interfered with the FAP.

However, this allegation was dismissed by the Department of National Defense (DND) in a statement last January.

“The President has already addressed the issue of the alleged ‘intervention’ of the SAP Christopher “Bong” Go in the PN Frigate Acquisition Project,” DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said earlier.

“The Secretary of National Defense (Delfin Lorenzana) is confirming that no intervention or interference by Secretary Bong Go happened. The document that the SND alluded to have been given to him by Secretary Bong Go was handed to him at the Palace, so he assumed that it came from Secretary Go, the Special Assistant to the President and Chief of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS). It should be noted that the one of the tasks of the PMS includes the official routing and endorsement of documents to government agencies concerned, for appropriate action,” he added.

Andolong said the subject document originated from Hanwha, one of the proponents for the CMS who were post-qualified by the PN for the FAP.

“The SND forwarded it to then Flag-Officer-In-Command of the Philippine Navy (then Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado) for appropriate action, who, in turn, gave it to then Commodore (now Rear Admiral) Robert Empedrad, the Chairperson of the Frigate Project Management Team at the time. Admiral Empedrad wrote a reply to the document stating the preferred CMS of the Philippine Navy, subject to the terms and conditions of the contract,” he added.

The DND spokesperson said there was neither hint nor guidance from the Palace or from Go to influence the implementation of the project.

“There is a contract for the FAP which was crafted mainly by the Philippine Navy and it will be implemented strictly to the letter,” Andolong pointed out.