MALACAÑANG on Saturday, February 3, said it is high time to determine the Aquino administration's liability over the controversial P15.7-billion frigate acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said President Rodrigo Duterte's office would investigate the questionable warship deal with winning bidder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) after the South Korean firm was reported banned by Seoul from participating in state-led bids for two years.
Malacañang's impending probe stemmed from Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano's call on Congress to look into the frigate acquisition agreement between the Philippine Navy and South Korean-based HHI.
"The President is getting exhausted to defend the contract entered into by the past administration," Roque told reporters in Ilocos Norte.
"It is about time to investigate Congressman Alejano's allies to find out what they have done, in connection with this frigate deal," he added.
On Thursday, February 1, Alejano said South Korea's Supreme Court decided on December 22, 2017 to impose a two-year ban on HHI's participation in government-led tenders because of bribery in 2013.
Alejano stressed that an appropriate investigation was necessary, following the South Korean bidder's purported "history of engaging in corrupt activities."
Duterte's top aide, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go, has been accused of vested interest in the selection of HHI for the Philippine Navy's Combat Management systems for the two frigates.
Go has denied his alleged involvement in the procurement of the warships' CMS.
Roque insisted that the Duterte government has no accountability over the controversial deal since HHI was picked as winning bidder on June 9, 2016, or during Aquino's watch.
He maintained that the current administration’s role in the acquisition project was merely "ministerial."
"I repeat, it was a done deal when the [Duterte] government assumed office. What the government of President Duterte issued was a notice of award, which is in accordance with [procurement law]. That's just ministerial," he said.
"So it's clear that the current administration has no liability because the conduct of bidding, the selection of winning bidder, all of those were done by the previous administration," he added. (SunStar Philippines)