Ex-Navy chief: ‘No hard feelings over relief from post’

MANILA -- Despite his unceremonious relief as Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command last month, Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado stressed he has no bitterness towards Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

"You know I'm a military officer, I obey orders, I know the Secretary of National Defense, he has some justification for doing it, so I respect it (his decision)," he added in an interview Wednesday.

The former PN chief added that he understands such decision as he has done it many times during his time as a leader of various naval units.

Lorenzana relieved Mercado from his post as PN chief last Dec. 18, citing loss of trust and confidence on the integrity and leadership of the naval officer.

This stemmed from the alleged fixation of the former on one company to supply the combat management system of the Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP), a contract won by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries.

At the moment, Mercado is now assigned to the Office of the-Chief-of-Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines on Special Duties.

Earlier, the ex-Navy chief cleared Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher "Bong" Go of alleged intervention on the PHP18-billion FAP.

"This morning (Wednesday) my attention was caught by the reports when I saw a piece of paper, a post it, with my name on it, about an instruction given to me by the Secretary of National Defense about the frigate, and apparently because of that there were insinuations about Secretary Bong Go, and you know I just like to come out because, on my side when I was FOIC, he never once, with so many times, we were together in many foreign navy ships, and there was never an instance, not once that he even asked me about the frigate, never, and kaya when I'm hearing the news, well on my side only, he never intervened, much more talk to me about these things," he added.

And when asked on whether Lorenzana told or ordered him to do something about the FAP, upon the alleged orders of the SAP, Mercado answered:

"Let me rephrase. Secretary Bong Go never directly mentioned to me anything about the frigate or indirectly from another person, I never heard any other person mention the name of Secreaty Bong Go in relation to the frigates, walang ganun."

The FAP is one of the key pieces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program as it seeks to provide the country with the capability to deal with air, surface and sub-surface threats. It will be armed with a variety of missiles and guns capable of defeating such threats.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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