MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said he would attend the Senate probe on the P15.5-billion frigate deal if he receives an invitation.
"Kung sakaling ipatawag man ako ng Senado hinggil sa (If ever I'm called to the Senate on the) frigate issue, anywhere, anytime, I'm willing to face the accusers," Go said in a message to reporters on Friday, January 19.
He said the "accusations are false."
"Wala akong tinatago. Wala akong tinataguan at wala po akong alam tungkol sa issue na 'yan. (I'm not hiding anything. I'm not hiding from anyone and I don't know anything about that issue). From the halls of the Senate and Congress, to the courts of justice, and even basketball courts, I will cooperate and face the false and malicious accusations against me," Go said.
Earlier that day, the Senate said it would investigate the big-ticket defense deal for two warships for the Philippine Navy.
Go was implicated in the deal after Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that a note from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana indicated that he received from Go a white paper favoring a supplier for critical equipment for the ships.
Lorenzana later on confirmed he wrote the note but that he "wrongly" assumed that the document came from Go. The defense chief said he could not recall who in Malacañang gave him the document.
An undersecretary in Go's Office of the Special Assistant to the President also confirmed he arranged a meeting with Navy officers to discuss the selection of supplier for the Combat Management Systems (CMS) of the ships.
Malacañang's intervention raised eyebrows as the billion-peso project is being implemented by the Department of National Defense.
But Lloyd Christopher Lao, the former undersecretary in Go's office who is now in the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, said the meeting was part of the mandate of Go's office to follow up on a complaint by winning bidder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) about delays in the frigates project.
It was the contention over the supplier of Combat Management Systems or CMS which has delayed the project as ship-building cannot start until the issue is resolved.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.