Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappler
Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, known selfie- and photobomber-king, took a photo with one of his boss' fiercest critics, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, on Monday, February 19.
The moment happened after the 5-hour Senate investigation into the controversial Philippine Navy frigates deal with South Korean firm Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri joined the two.
Asked about it, Trillanes said he asked the executive branch through Go to just give what the Navy wants as supplier for its Combat Management System (CMS).
The Navy originally wanted Tacticos Thales of the Netherlands to supply it. But HHI, the shipmaker, wanted to get Hanwha. Senators questioned why the contract does not ensure that the Navy, as the end user, has the final say on the systems it would use.
"Ang sinasabi ko is bakit 'di na lang ibigay 'yung gusto ng Navy.... Paparatingin daw niya sa mga kinauukulan. Pagka ganoon, mawawala 'yung apprehensions and concerns ng Navy sa Hanwha Systems," Trillanes told reporters.
(What I'm saying is why don't we just give what the Navy wants.... He said he would relay the message to the people concerned. If that happens, the apprehensions and concerns of the Navy regarding Hanwha Systems would vanish.)
It was Trillanes who primarily called for the probe and filed a resolution together with his colleagues in the minority.
During the hearing, Trillanes presented letters and documents from Go's office to show he supposedly meddled in choosing the supplier of the warships' CMS, which is likened to a ship's "brain."
He also questioned if it is really only Go involved in the controversy because of the full backing of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet, as well as other supporters, during the hearing. (READ: Some Bong Go supporters clueless about frigates controversy)
"If it's just Secretary Bong Go, bakit full force? Bakit may mga hakot pa? Ano lang, medyo palaisipan 'yan," Trillanes said.
(If it's just Secretary Bong Go, why is the Cabinet in full force? Why is there a crowd of supporters? That's something to think about.)
Go, for his part, claimed vindication.
"The truth was revealed at the conclusion of this Senate hearing. I have been vindicated. The allegations have not been proven," Go told reporters. (READ: DOCUMENTS: How Bong Go is linked thrice to frigates deal) – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org