DND chief shrugs off allegations of corruption in frigate deal; defends Bacarro’s appointment

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana defended on Friday the military’s acquisition of two brand-new South Korean-made frigates against the claims of Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao that the deal was tainted with corruption.

At the same time, the defense chief also parried off criticisms raised by a senior member of the House of Representatives on the designation of Major Gen. Bartolome Bacarro as incoming commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command (AFP-Solcom).

Bacarro, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988 and current commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, will assume the leadership of the Solcom upon the retirement of Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade later this month.

Replying to Pacquiao’s allegations that the procurement of the two frigates was marred with corruption, Lorenzana said that even the Senate as a whole had already looked into the claims, and yet, it found nothing anomalous and has even declared that the project was in order.

“Sen. Pacquiao, the frigate deal has been thoroughly investigated by the Senate in 2017 and they found nothing anomalous. In fact, you were in one of the hearings,“ Lorenzana said.

“Senator, since you seem to be so sure of your allegations, it would be much appreciated if you could provide details of this alleged corruption. By the way, senator, those frigates were delivered last year ahead of schedule and they passed the Navy’s Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee,” the defense chief added.

The acquisition of the frigates was among the projects that Pacquiao alleged to had to been mired by corruption under the Duterte administration.

The senator made his claims after President Duterte dared him to identify the agencies in government where corruption has taken place. The President issued the dare after Pacquiao claimed that cases of corruption have tripled under the Duterte administration.

On the appeal of Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez to recall Bacarro’s appointment as commander of Solcom, Lorenzana said that his appointment was thoroughly deliberated upon by the military before it was sent to the Commander in Chief who made the designation.

“Major Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro went through a rigorous selection process by the AFP Board of Generals and found fit to assume higher position in the AFP,” he said.

Rodriguez opposed the appointment of Bacarro over the case of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadet Darwin Dormitorio, who died as a result of hazing. Bacarro was the PMA’s commandant of cadets at the time the hazing occurred.

“On the unfortunate death of Cadet Darwin Dormitorio, Major Gen. Bacarro was cleared by the Baguio  City Prosecutor’s Office of any responsibility for lack of probable cause,” Lorenzana said.

“Those responsible for the death of Cadet Dormitorio are now facing criminal charges. It would be an injustice to Major Gen. Bacarro if he is prevented from moving up in the ladder of command for something that he did not commit,” the defense chief added.

Lorenzana banked on the capability of Bacarro, saying he was “confident that…[he] will perform outstandingly as the Solcom commander.”

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