Malacañang welcomes probe into Navy frigate supplier
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Saturday, February 3, that they welcome an investigation into the Navy frigate supplier Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), if only to mean a probe into the Aquino administration, too.
Roque was reacting to a statement by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano who said HHI has been banned by South Korea in their government bids due to a history of bribery and corruption.
"Congressman Alejano, salamat po. Dahil sa inyong sinabi, iimbestigahan na po natin iyong inyong mga kakampi noong nakalipas na administrasyon," Roque said. (Congressman Alejano, thank you. Because of what you said, we will investigate your allies in the previous administration.)
Roque stressed that it was the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III that selected HHI to build two warships for the Philippine Navy.
"Uulitin ko po, done deal na 'yan nang pumasok ang gobyerno. Ang in-issue lang po ng gobyerno ni Presidente Duterte, iyong notice of award. At sang-ayon naman sa RA 9184 (Procurement Law), ministerial naman po 'yan, kung walang protesta at kung hindi naman po glaring iyong pagiging iligal ng kontrata," Roque said.
(I repeat, that was a done deal when the Duterte administration came in. What the government of President Duterte issued was the Notice of Award. It was pursuant to RA 9184, and was purely ministerial, especially if there were no protests and the supposed contract irregularity was not glaring.)
Roque added: "Kung totoo na blacklisted iyong binigyan nila ng kontrata, dapat managot iyong mga opisyales ng nakalipas na administrasyon at sabihin sa atin bakit naging ganoon ang kanilang desisyon."
(If it's true that they gave a contract to a black listed company, then the officials in the previous administration should be held liable, and explain to us their decision.)
Alejano's issue against HHI is only the latest to add up to a controversy that has many layers.
While the P15.5-billion deal for the warships was practically completed during the Aquino administration, the Duterte administration is now involved in a crucial second part of the project: Who will provide the Combat Management System (CMS) or the data system of the warships?
HHI decided to buy the CMS from fellow South Korean company Hanwha Systems. The Navy rejected the choice on the ground that its CMS does not comply with the technical specifications agreed upon in the contract.
Former Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Mercado stood by Dutch company Tacticos Thales, which, according to him, is "proven technology."
Rappler obtained documents that showed that while the supplier was being debated, Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go intervened.
A white paper endorsing Hanhwa was given to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who, in turn, gave it to the Navy for assessment. Lorenzana wrote in the marginal notes that the white paper came from Go. Go denied it.
When the investigative report came out, Lorenzana clarified that he just assumed the white paper came from Go, but nevertheless said it was handed to him inside Malacañang.
The investigative report earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte who called Rappler "fake news" because of it.
The Senate will investigate the issue, and Go will be among those invited to the hearing. – Rappler.com