President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday defended his special assistant Christopher "Bong" Go, who has denied reports that he intervened in a P15.5-billion project to acquire new weapons system supplier for the Philippine Navy's frigate program.
Duterte, who has had Go as his assistant since 1998, said that his aide would resign if the reports would be proven true.
"Find a way na magsabi ka ng totoo nag-intervene kami. I’ll give it to you. And if you can find, I will ask Bong to resign tomorrow. Work on it tonight. Let me know tomorrow and I will fire him if he did intervene, even for one word," Duterte said, as Go nodded behind him, following the inauguration of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines' new communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management systems.
In a statement sent to reporters, Go denied allegations of his involvement in the acquisition of frigates as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Rappler, citing documents they obtained.
"I have not intervened in the procurement of [Department of National Defense] of its computer system for its ships. I have not participated nor intervened, directly or indirectly, in the transactions of DND. Further, I even have no information nor knowledge of the said transaction. Clarification on the issues should be addressed to SND Lorenzana," he said, referring to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Duterte, who earlier denied a hand in the Securities and Exchange Commission's decision to revoke Rappler's certificate of incorporation, even called the online news site "a fake news outlet" over its report on Go.
"We do not intervene in the affairs of the Armed Forces. We are just an office that receives complaints or papers for reference and we transmit them to the proper agency. We do not get any money. We are not interested in that," Duterte said.
"Para sa kaalaman ninyo, you can you’re your suspicious mind from roaming somewhere else. But since you are a fake news outlet then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake," he added.
Duterte gave at least two reasons why Go would not intervene in the affairs of the Navy.
"Who gave you idea he can intervene? Where is his signature?... Alam mo, hindi ako mag-yabang. Pero bilyonaryo ‘to, sa totoo lang… He seem to appear intervening because about money? The things that you are telling never happened," he added.
"You think, you think you can convince Lorenzana and the guys there, you can bribe them? Or you think that sila papayag na kami ang mag-bribe with the way I talk, the way I’ve been firing people?" he added. —JST/RSJ, GMA News