Duterte says Korean contractor in frigate deal dragged into Senate probe ‘for nothing’

Published February 21, 2018, 4:27 AM

by MB Developer

By Genalyn Kabiling

The South Korean company commissioned to build two frigates for the Philippine Navy has become the subject of a Senate hearing “for nothing,” President Duterte said last Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the Senate hearing today (Czar Dancel/ Manila Bulletin)
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana during the Senate hearing on the deal entered into by the government with Hanjin Heavy Industries for two frigates.  (Czar Dancel/ Manila Bulletin)

The President explained that the Palace merely acted on a complaint by the Korean firm about the reported delay in the frigate acquisition project.

Duterte, speaking before a gathering of Indian businessmen in Malacañang Tuesday, emphasized that Malacañang has always been “open” to receiving complaints of the public, including businessmen.

“If you have a complaint regarding corruption, let me know at any time of the day or night and I will give you access and I will give you the time and space to talk to you. And that is what happened with that Korean. He was complaining that he was still not allowed to deliver there — to perfect the contract about the frigate,” he said.

“Just like that Korean, he’s a subject of a hearing in Congress for nothing,” he added.

Duterte further said: “I have been saying, you can go here and complain and I will meet you and I will have that officer called in front of you and we will hang him in this chandelier,” he said.

The Senate committee recently launched an inquiry into the frigate acquisition project of the Philippine Navy amid allegations the President’s assistant Christopher Go interfered in the defense contract.

Go, appearing before the Senate probers last Monday, has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing as “fake news” the allegations that he meddled in the selection of the ships’ supplier of combat weapon system. He claimed that they merely endorsed a complaint the Palace received to the Department of National Defense.

Back in October 2016, the defense department forged a P15.7 billion contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries to supply two frigates. The ships are expected to be delivered to the Philippine Navy in 2020.

Former Navy chief Ronald Mercado was dismissed last December for allegedly delaying the project.