Philippine senate probes frigate deal
MANILA – Reuters
Philippine senators began a public inquiry on Feb. 19 into the $300 million purchase of two navy frigates, to determine whether President Rodrigo Duterte’s closest aide had interfered in the procurement process.
The inquiry was prompted by media reports that carried a leaked document with an annotation that links the president’s longtime special assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go, to the process of procuring a combat management system for the frigates from a South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The hearing called by the Senate committee on national defense and security is looking to establish whether or not Go had gone beyond his remit by getting involved in a defense contract. He has not been accused of corruption.
Go says it’s fake news’
Go denies any wrongdoing and read a statement critical of the media, calling it “fake news.” He said he was simply passing on to the defense department a “complaint” the Office of the President had received.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper and news site Rappler last month carried leaked copies of a white paper originating from the president’s office and asking the navy to look at a proposal by a South Korean subcontractor, Hanwha Land Systems, to supply the weapons system.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has confirmed he added an annotation to that document telling the navy chief to look at the proposal, and that the document had been given to him by Go.
However, Lorenzana told the inquiry on Feb. 19 that he could not be certain who gave it to him.