Bong Go 'link' to warship deal a hack job

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

January 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

MANILA -- Two administration lawmakers on Friday dismissed as "nothing but a desperate hack job" the allegations against Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong" Go on the multi-billion frigate acquisition project (FAP) of the Philippine Nay.

In a statement, House appropriations committee chair Karlo Nograles and his younger brother, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles, said this Bong Go-warship issue is a "fishing expedition" and, at worst, a smear campaign against the Duterte administration.

"They've done everything to malign the Chief Executive but these obviously haven't worked in their favor. So now they're targeting his most trusted friend in Bong Go," Karlo said.

According to reports from online news site Rappler, Go allegedly “intervened” in the selection of the combat management system (CMS) of the two warships.

Go has categorically denied the accusation, while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and former Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado have backed him up.

"This issue was raised out of nowhere amid the surge in President Rodrigo Duterte's ratings from independent pollsters. The timing and dubious nature of the accusation would make anyone with a discerning mind suspicious," Karlo said.

The older Nograles highlighted the recent Social Weather Stations' (SWS) December 2017 survey results showing that Duterte posted a "record high" net satisfaction rating of +70 percent, a 12-percentage point increase from his rating during the third quarter.

For the younger Nograles, the connections being made right now between Go and the warship deal is apparently contrived.

"The timeline of the FAP is indisputable. It was initiated by the Aquino administration in June 7, 2013 and was completed through the appointment of the winning bidder on June 9, 2016, a full three weeks before President Duterte took over," Rep. Jericho said.

"Simply put, Bong Go was never in a position to intervene during that period even if he wanted to," he added.

Jericho also noted that the supposed damning document against Go was not even signed by the latter.

"No Bong Go signature, no issue. This looks like a witch hunt just like all the other attempts to discredit our government," he said.

Malacañang on Thursday said that an internal investigation showed that the allegations against Go were not true.

“An investigation has been conducted and it has been found that the allegations of Rappler are untrue and unfounded,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said at a briefing in Legazpi City, Albay.

Roque reiterated that there was no way Go could have intervened in the acquisition of the two frigates, including the CMS, because the project was already awarded by the Philippine government during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

The Palace spokesperson said Rappler’s allegation against Go “appears to be defense by way of an offense,” noting how the allegations surfaced immediately after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declared that Rappler Inc. and Rappler Holdings violated the ownership rules of the Constitution on mass media companies. (PNA)