NWI - Naval Warfare

Duterte denies aide intervened in Philippines warship deal

16th January 2018 - 18:51 GMT | by ‚ÄčAgence France-Presse in Manila

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte denied reports his chief aide had improperly intervened in the acquisition of two new warships for $308 million, just weeks after the country's navy chief was sacked for jeopardising the deal.

Speaking on 16 January Duterte, who has long insisted he would fire any official at the slightest 'whiff' of corruption, challenged the media to produce evidence of wrongdoing so he could sack his righthand-man Christopher Go.

In an angry outburst, he accused local news website Rappler, which first reported the allegations, of publishing 'fake news'.

The government signed a contract in 2016 with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries to build two frigates to be delivered to the Philippine navy in 2020 and 2021.

But concerns were raised last month as the commander of the Philippine Navy was abruptly sacked for delaying the project.

Defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana claimed Vadm Ronald Joseph Mercado was trying to force the government to award a separate contract for the warships' combat management systems to a specific electronics company.

Mercado was removed from office following 'instructions from higher authorities', according to military officials.

While Mercado has not yet responded to Lorenzana's allegations in public, Go on 16 January issued a statement denying any malpractice, saying he had not participated or intervened directly or indirectly in the transactions.

'I have not intervened in the procurement of the computer system for its [the defence department's] ships,' Go said.

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