THINGS I LEARNED FROM THE SENATE HEARING ON THE FRIGATE ACQUISITION PROJECT
The first thing I learned is that, apparently, high officials of the executive branch of government can be hauled off to answer bare allegations of impropriety.
While I am not an expert on the matters of ship building, the government procurement process, and the state of our national security, I do understand that an article in Rappler insinuated that Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go attempted to intervene in the implementation of the Philippine Navy’s P16 billion Frigate Acquisition Project.
In the ensuing senate hearing yesterday led by Senate committee on national defense chairman Gringgo Honasan, I was disappointed that Senator Antonio Trillanes failed to convince me that SAP Go had actually meddled in the Frigate Acquisition Project.
At the core of the allegations made against Go was a note written by Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana claiming that SAP handed him a white paper/position paper and instructing Vice Admiral Mercado to write a report on the paper for President Duterte.
SAP Go denies having given the paper to SND Lorenzana, who in turn, says he cannot recall who gave him the position paper.
Further in the hearing, Lorenzana and Mercado as well as other officials of the Philippine Navy deny that they discussed anything concerned the Frigate Acquisition Project.
But even if they had, would it be a crime for SAP Go to discuss the Frigate Acquisition Project with officials of the DND and Philippine Navy? Apparently, not.
As it was explained to me by a friend in Malacanang, one of SAP Go’s jobs is the supervise the Presidential Management Staff whose job it is to keep tabs on any and all government projects and programs under the executive branch.
Was there evidence that showed SAP Go had asked the Philippine Navy to favor a supplier of the Philippine Navy?
All that Senator Trillanes pointed to was that note which Lorenzana wrote.
Further on, Trillanes claimed that the Philippine Navy had changed its mind with regard to a component of the frigate ships and decided to go have the ship installed with a Korean component instead of one made in Netherlands.
All this seems to me is that it is like a situation where a pesky neighbor eavesdropped on a family arguing over what car to buy and without even understanding the rest of the conversation, began insinuating that the father was decided to choose a lesser known brand because he wanted to spare money for himself.
Rumor mongering, in the senate? Really?!
Senator Loren Legarda was right to say, near at the end of the hearing, that the whole thing was a waste of everybody’s time.
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