Sen. Lacson’s opening statement and first question (to former PN chief V/Adm Ronald Joseph Mercado):
Our career ends when we retire. Our character stays up to the day we die. My interest in this issue at hand lies on my being an author and principal sponsor of the revised AFP modernization law or RA 10349, sometime in 2012, in the 15th Congress. Also, I feel for those whose reputation may have been sullied after being accused based on some tenuous allegations in relation to the P18-billion fund allocation initially earmarked for the frigate acquisition project of the Philippine Navy and the AFP to be sourced from P75-billion appropriations for the revised AFP modernization program. I myself have been vilified like nobody’s business in the past so I can easily relate to them as a matter of experience. Upon the other hand, I join every taxpayer in this country in condemning those whose insatiable greed always gets the better of them and will do whatever it takes to pursue possible criminal charges against those to be found involved in this shenanigan, if any.
I did my own investigation as I always do before attending a Senate inquiry like this one today. And it was easy to conclude that something went wrong with an otherwise noble endeavor to modernize our Navy fleet.
To set the tone of this inquiry, let me ask Vice Admiral Mercado. But before I shoot my first question, may I state for the record that I have glanced about you and your service record and reputation as it is my habit to do so before I confront the resource persons in our Senate investigations. You have pretty solid service reputation respected by peers, superiors and subordinates. Based on my initial findings, it is quite difficult for me to doubt your integrity. I hope I will not be proven wrong in the course of this hearing.
Back to my question, during the entire process of the frigate acquisition project, did it ever occur to you that Sec Bong Go may have had any personal interest even in behalf of his principal the commander-in-chief and President of the Republic, Rodrigo Roa Duterte? Yes or no?