SPECIAL Assistant to the President Christopher Go told the Senate Monday no changes were made to the Navy’s P18-billion frigate contract concluded toward the end of the Aquino administration, and that reports he had tried to influence the deal were merely aimed at tainting the Duterte administration.
“This was finished during the Aquino administration. Nothing was changed and nobody tried to intervene in the contract,” Go said in Filipino, even as he dubbed reports about his involvement “fake news.”
“It isn’t good to hear, but this contract was a photo finish because it was rushed to completion just before the end of the Aquino administration,” he continued. “The innocent have been dragged into this to taint the administration of President Duterte.”
Go said those hitting the project are out to scuttle the acquisition by the Philippine Navy of two missile-capable frigates that will jumpstart the modernization of its fleet.
“We will not allow them to win because the truth is on our side. I am confident that the Senate will be a vehicle of truth than be used to advance self-serving interests. We place our full trust in the Senate to put an end to this [controversy],” he said.
Go pointed out that with President Duterte’s strong stance against corruption, his office receives thousands of complaints, such as those relating to the delays in the frigate project, and they are Senators Vicente Sotto III, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Loren Legarda, Joel Villanueva, Manny Pacquiao, Richard Gordon and Sherwin Gatchalian also defended Go and insisted they do not believe that Go was involved in the frigate controversy.
Zubiri said he has known Go for the last 20 years and he can vouch for his integrity and honesty. Legarda said the hearing wasted Go’s time.
Opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Risa Hontiveros questioned Go, but Trillanes later said it was up to the people to see if there was evidence linking him to the frigate deal.
Actor Robin Padilla, a staunch supporter of Duterte, said they addressed Go as “General” because he the highest official of their group called “Rebolusyonaryong Pagbabago.”
Supporters of Go, most clad in red, trooped to the Senate, chanting Go’s name and carrying placards manifesting their support for the Palace aide.
In a press briefing at the Palace, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque described Go as a “man of integrity… with no desire to amass material wealth.”
Roque said Malacanang conducted a separate probe and the allegations of the online news site Rappler were untrue and unfounded, the presidential spokesman said.
Roque said it was impossible for Go to have intervened since the bidding was over and the project was already awarded to Hyundai. With Vito Barcelo
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