MANILA -- Two Cabinet officials said Monday President Rodrigo Duterte is the real target of the accusations against Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go.

Sa tingin namin, marami sa amin sa Gabinete or ako personally ang target nito ay si Presidente (Rodrigo R. Duterte). Di ba, remember highest rating ngayon ang military dahil sa Marawi crisis at sa mga sakripisyong ginawa nila so makikita mo na ang target ay ang ating Pangulo kaya nadamay si Secretary Bong Go (Many Cabinet officials and also me personally think that the target of this accusation is no other than the President. Remember, the military is highly-commended now because of their role in ending the Marawi crisis and the sacrifices they have made. You will see that the target of all these is our President and so Secretary Bong Go was also dragged into it),” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

Cayetano was among the Cabinet officials who attended the Senate hearing on the Philippine Navy's Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) to show support for Go who was alleged to have interfered in the deal.

Asked to name those who are out to get the President, Cayetano pointed to the people who want to bring down his administration.

Alam naman natin na (We know that) internationally and locally, there’s a move talaga na maalis ang Pangulo (to oust the President.) Whatever it is, destablization or kritiko lang (just criticisms), meron talaga na iba ang pattern at yan ay maalis siya (there has been a pattern, and that is to have the President ousted)," he said.

Cayetano added that he does not rule out the possibility that the mess surrounding the project could just be a “disagreement” among the military.

Pwedeng may nagti-take advantage lang nung ibang nang-iintriga at sinakyan na lamang (It is also possible that there are those taking advantage. Some are creating intrigues and are riding on the situation),” he added.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who was also present during the hearing in the Senate, echoed Cayetano’s remarks.

He said there are those who are really out to link the President to the controversy without presenting any evidence.

Ang target talaga nila dito si Presidente, kahit na walang evidence basta magkaroon lang ng doubt sa Pangulo (Their real target is the President. Even if they have no proof, they just want people to doubt him),” Aguirre said as he challenged Senator Antonio Trillanes IV who linked Duterte to the issue to present evidence to back up his assertion.

Pure speculation

Ang problema kay Senador Trillanes (The problem with Senator Trillanes), nag-isyu lang siya ng statement na walang kinalaman si Bong Go pero lalagyan niya another speculation that if Go did not intervene, ito ay utos ni Presidente (he just issued a statement that Bong Go had nothing to do with it but he will add another speculation that if Go did not intervene, it was an order from the President). Pure speculation at walang basehan (and no basis). Maglabas sya ng ebidensya (He must show proof). Puro kathang-isip lang yang sinasabi niya (What he says are all fictional),” Aguirre told reporters.

He added that this is the reason why they are opposed to the holding of an executive session, so that the public would know the real issue on the controversy.

Bakit mag (Why an) executive session? Walang tinatago dito kaya di kami papayag na magkaroon ng (We are not hiding anything here so we won't agree to an) executive session. Let’s do it in the open if they have any evidence against Bong Go, ilabas nila (show it),” he added.

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he attended the inquiry also to show support for Go and to prove that the Duterte administration has nothing to hide on the issue.

Tanging katotohanan lamang po ang isisiwalat ni SAP Bong Go (SAP Bong Go will reveal only the truth),” he added.

Among the Cabinet members present in the inquiry spearheaded by the Senate Committee on National Defense, chaired by Senator Gringo Honasan, were Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Presidential Communication Secretary Martin Andanar and his assistant secretary, Mocha Uson, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Board Member Sandra Cam, and political adviser to the President Francis Tolentino.

Actors Robin Padilla, Philip Salvador and Cesar Montano were also at the gallery to show their support for Go.

Outside the Senate, thousands of supporters of Go, wearing red shirts and carrying signs saying #SupportSecBongGo" and "We Support Sec Bong Go”, held a brief program.

Their posters showed that some of them came from all over Luzon and some from Mindanao. (PNA)