MANILA - The investigation into the Navy's P16-billion frigate project should focus on the officials of the previous administration who approved the contract with Korean firm Hyundai Heavy Industries, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Saturday.
Roque made the statement after Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that Hyundai was banned from participating in the bidding due to the firm's alleged bribery cases in other countries.
“Congressman Alejano, salamat po. Dahil sa iyong sinabi iimbestigahan na po natin yung inyong mga kakampi noong nakalipas na administrasyon,” the Palace spokesperson told reporters.
(Congressman Alejano, thank you. Due to your statement, we will now investigate your allies in the previous administration.)
“Kung totoo na blacklisted iyong binigyan nila ng kontrata, dapat managot iyong mga opisyales ng mga nakalipas na administrasyon at sabihin sa atin bakit naging ganoon ang kanilang naging desisyon,” he added.
(If they gave the contract to a blacklisted firm, the officials of the previous administration should be held liable and explain to us how they came up with their decision.)
The frigate acquisition project started during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III and continued under the Duterte administration, which signed the notice of award to Hyundai on August 18, 2016.
The Duterte administration, Roque said, merely performed a ministerial function when it signed the notice of award, pursuant to the Government Procurement Reform law.
Controversy had marred the big-ticket project after it was reported that President Rodrigo Duterte's long-time aide, Sec. Christopher “Bong” Go, allegedly intervened in the selection of the combat management system (CMS) for the 2 frigates from Hyundai.
Go allegedly favored another Korean firm, Hanwha Systems, to provide the CMS for the warships. Go and Malacañang have denied this allegation.