MANILA -- The Philippine Navy’s frigate project would push through despite the relief of Vice Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado from the Navy’s top post, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

"Kaya nga naming siya tinanggal, para matuloy (We relieved him so that the project would push through)" he added.

Mercado was relieved Tuesday after the defense chief cited loss of trust and confidence in the integrity and leadership of the naval officer.

This was brought about by Mercado’s alleged fixation on one company to supply the combat management system (CMS) of the frigate project, whose contract was won by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The CMS handles the weapons, sensors and other equipment related to combat.

Lorenzana also clarified that before signing the contract for the frigate program last year, he had a consultation meeting with ranking Navy leaders, including Mercado who was Western Command chief at that time, to determine if they had any problem or misgiving on the project.

When no opposition came from the naval officers, Lorenzana said he proceeded to the Navy headquarters in Roxas Blvd., Manila and signed the contract.

In the contract, Lorenzana said the shipbuilder has the authority or power to select the maker or manufacturer of the CMS.

"The CMS is very important to the project but there is a specification there. They were in the contract, the technical working groups’ discussion. You cannot put a company there to put the CMS, ilagay mo lang capability na gusto mo (just state the capability that you want). Now Hyundai said that they can, they will put the capabilities, CMS there according to specifications and we will find that out when they deliver that. Pag na-deliver yun at hindi nasunod yung specifics nyan (Once that is delivered and the specifications are not met), we will not accept the project and we have to reconnect to them so that they can correct whatever is deficient," he added.

He added that Hyundai is not keen on Mercado's proposal as it is more expensive and not in the contract.

Once delivered and commissioned in 2020, the frigates will be the first Filipino warships capable of neutralizing surface, subsurface and air threats with missile and other modern armaments. (PNA)