DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday, December 20, that he had lost “trust and confidence” in relieved Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado after he insisted “on his own system” for a major frigate project worth over P15 million.
“I have lost trust and confidence in his integrity and leadership. I question his intention behind his fixation with one specific company for the combat management system of the frigate acquisition project,” Lorenzana said.
“Ngayon si Admiral Mercado want to bring in another company, another system na hindi naman kasama sa kontrata. So for quite some time nagbabalikan dito ‘yung mga directive,” he added.
He said as the top official of the defense department, he issued two directives regarding the matter in which Mercado repeatedly refused to follow.
“So to me that is tantamount to insubordination. So his constant call...he was around forum shopping and he talks about rescinding the contract kung hindi matutuloy ‘yung pinapasok niya kumpanya,” said Lorenzana.
He said he initially did not want to remove Mercado from the post but the acquisition team has expressed alarm over the delay in the implementation of the project.
“In fact, they were the ones who really recommended to me na i-relieve si Admiral Mercado but I said, huwag muna, paguusapan muna, but he continued to insist and continued to talk, putting the department in a bad light,” Lorenzana said.
As reported by the Associated Press, a document showed Lorenzana complaining about Mercado’s attitude on the said frigate deal which was already awarded to Hyundai Heavy Industries from South Korea in 2016.
"Orchestrating such unmeritorious issue does not speak well of his leadership for which this department had lost its confidence in him to lead this important major service command,'' Lorenzana said in a letter to his subordinates.
Lorenzana also reportedly asked for President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval to relieve Mercado.
The Defense chief said he is puzzled why Mercado suddenly wants to take down the contract because he consulted his subordinates several times before he signed it. (SunStar Philippines)