A form of lobbying? Bong Go 'a messenger' in frigate deal: Trillanes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2018 09:52 AM

MANILA - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday said he believes Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go was "just a messenger" when he got involved in the P15.7 billion frigate deal.

"He is not the mastermind. People who know Secretary Go knows that he is a messenger. He is a loyal subordinate. He doesn't do stuff on his own. He is the gatekeeper to the President," he said in an interview on ANC.

He added that he will soon reveal the "point man" who he claims is manipulating these transactions.

Media reports earlier showed a leaked document with an annotation that links the president's longtime special assistant, Christopher "Bong" Go, to the process of procuring a combat management system for the frigates from a South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The reports showed leaked copies of a white paper originating from the president's office and asking the Philippine Navy to look at a proposal by a South Korean subcontractor, Hanwha Land Systems, to supply the weapons system.

In his testimony before the Senate, Go denied any wrongdoing and read a statement critical of the media, calling it "fake news". He said he was simply passing on to the defense department a "complaint" the Office of the President had received.

The act, said Go, was “a mere routinary endorsement which is one of the thousands of complaints we endorse as part of PRRD's (Duterte's) agenda to open up the gates and ears of Malacañang to all complaints against public officials and against the bureaucracy.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said he only assumed the letter was from Go.

Digitally rendered image of the 2,600-ton frigate to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries for the Philippine Navy. Hyundai Heavy Industries

For his part, Trillanes said the endorsement of the letter could be seen as a form of lobbying since the Navy had already chosen Dutch firm Thales Tacticos to provide the combat management system (CMS) for the two frigates.

"The white paper is the position paper of Hanwha, the other CMS that was not chosen by the navy. It is a form of lobbying," he said.

The Navy said they initially preferred Thales but eventually chose Hanhwa, which Trillanes, a former Navy, said is inferior to Thales, which has been tried and tested.

"Kung ano'ng inferior 'yun ang kinukuha. In essence, dahil kikita ng mas mas malaki 'yung contractor. I'm not ready to go that point na money changes hands but di tayo pinanganak kahapon," he said.