MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Saying he attended the Senate hearing to "clear" his name, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go used the public forum to rant against Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the news outlets that published reports about his alleged involvement in the warships deal.
"Rappler, sana sumulat naman kayo ng magagandang pangyayari. Nakakatulog pa ba kayo niyan? Para na rin kayong nakapatay ng tao. Makonsensya naman kayo," said Go on Monday, February 19.
(Rappler, I hope you write about good things happening. Can you still sleep? It's like you killed a person. I hope you have a conscience.)
He even suggested a headline for Rappler and the Inquirer to use in stories they publish after the hearing. (READ: Some Bong Go supporters clueless about frigates controversy)
"I am challenging Rappler and Inquirer to put on their headline tomorrow – kailan 'nyo ba sinulat na (when did you ever write), 'Bong Go, innocent and did not intervene.' Bakit puro intervene, puro bad news (Why is it all 'intervene,' all bad news)?" he asked. (READ: DOCUMENTS: How Bong Go is linked thrice to frigates deal)
President Rodrigo Duterte's closest aide also hit Rappler for its story on the assurance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to Vice President Leni Robredo that they would not support a revolutionary government.
The report, "AFP, DND assure Robredo: No support for revolutionary government," quoted the Vice President as saying that both AFP Chief of Staff Rey Guerrero and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana vowed to her "in no uncertain terms" that they would not support a revolutionary government or any threat to the Constitution.
Go said this report was another example of "fake news."
He said media should have asked Guerrero and Lorenzana to confirm if they indeed made such assurances to Robredo.
By saying Lorenzana and Guerrero never said such things, Go is implying that Robredo lied to media.
Rappler was also not the only media organization who carried such a headline.
The Inquirer story on the Robredo interview is titled, "We won't back a revolutionary gov't, Defense, AFP chiefs assure Robredo" while GMA News Online's story is "DND, AFP chiefs assure Robredo: We won't support revolutionary gov't."
Go said Rappler's article must be intended to create a rift between the defense officials and Malacañang. (READ: Cabinet in full force at Senate probe to support Bong Go)
"Masyadong malisyoso eh, iniintriga nila si SND (Secretary of National Defense), si Guerrero kay Pangulo para magalit si boss sa kanila," said Go.
(It's too malicious. They are creating intrigue among SND, Guerrero, and the President so that boss will get angry at them.)
'Honest and candid account'
Robredo's legal adviser Barry Gutierrez, however, stood by her statement regarding the assurance she received from Guerrero and Lorenzana.
"VP Leni's statement last December was an honest and candid account of the briefing that the leadership of the AFP provided to the Vice President and her senior staff," said Gutierrez.
"Far from fostering 'intrigue,' it served to underscore the professionalism of our armed forces, and assure the public of the unity of AFP leadership in their firm commitment to the Constitution," he added.
Gutierrez said he hopes Go will be "as honest and candid" as Robredo in answering the allegations thrown at him.
"Hopefully, Secretary Go can likewise be as honest and candid with regard to the issues he is currently facing. By answering the matter squarely, he will also assure our people of his, and the administration's, commitment to truth and accountability," Gutierrez said.
For Go, however, the media is "undermining the duly constituted authorities."
"Inuudyukan nila na mag-EDSA 3. Sa tingin 'nyo ba magpapaloko pa ang mga sundalo (Do you think the soldiers will be tricked)?" he said. (READ: Bong Go says his office 'endorsed' frigate supplier's complaint to DND) – with a report from Mara Cepeda / Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.