Analysis by Raïssa Robles
This was how President Rodrigo Duterte defended his closest aide Christopher Lawrence Tesoro Go who has been accused—unfairly, the president says—of intervening in the choice of supplier for the combat management system (CMS) of the navy’s two new frigates.
In his January 16 press conference, Duterte yelled and castigated Rappler for its story published earlier that day entitled Bong Go intervenes in P15.5-B project to acquire PH warships by Carmela Fonbuena.
You can watch the video of Duterte yelling at the end of this piece.
Actually, the Philippine Daily Inquirer had beaten Rappler to the story by one day. On the night of January 15, 2018, Inquirer came out with the story, Palace had special interest in Navy’s selection of weapons system supplier by Nikko Dizon.
On January 16, Duterte went ballistic over the Rappler story. He pointedly told Rappler’s Malacañang Palace reporter Pia Ranada at the start of his press con that night:
“Questions? Rappler? Your articles are rife with innuendos and pregnant with falsity. We do not intervene in the affairs of the Armed Forces.
We are just an office that receives complaints or papers for reference and we transmit them to the proper agency. We do not get any money. We are not interested in that. Para sa kaalaman ninyo, you can stop your suspicious mind from roaming somewhere else. But since you are a fake news outlet then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake.
We can debate now. Tell me where is our lies and I’ll tell you where are yours. Anybody?
I am asking you, where are your sense of values going?”
Duterte referred to Rappler as a “fake news outlet” because the day before, on January 15, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission had canceled Rappler’s registration papers, in effect revoking its license to operate. The SEC said Rappler was really owned and controlled by foreign investors, in violation of a Constitution prohibition.
Duterte must have known the frigates story was about to come out because Rappler got Bong Go’s side and printed this in the same story.
Go told Rappler palace reporter Pia Ranada:
“I have not intervened in the procurement of DND of its computer system for its ships. I have not participated nor intervened, directly or indirectly, in the transactions of DND.”
Challenged by Duterte to ask a question, Ranada said:
“Okay, sir. Sir, earlier in your speech, you said that the issue on the SEC ruling against Rappler is not an issue of press freedom. But at the same time, during your speech, you were giving comments about the media and about Rappler and Inquirer na sumusobra na kami [we’re getting to be too much]. So what does that mean, sir? You say that this is not attack on media. But you also have attacks on media in your speech following…”
At this point, the official transcript of the press briefing noted that due to “overlapping voices” it could not transcribe who was saying what.
Then the official transcript went on, this time quoting Duterte saying that his special aide Bong Go was far richer than him. In fact, Bong Go was “a billionaire”.
“Let me give you an example. Huwag na tayong lumayo. [Let’s not go too far.] Your inquisitive mind goes beyond its normal proportion. Bong, ayan o.
You know, I’ll just… Tingnan ninyo ‘yung — a daily dose of your medicine. Bong Go intervenes in the 15 billion… Who gave you an idea he can intervene? Where is his signature? Where is your statement? And where is your — even a point of reference? Dumadaan… Ang dami …but look at…”
Then Duterte made a surprising revelation:
“Alam mo, hindi ako mag-yabang pero bilyonaryo ‘to, sa totoo lang. Punta kayong Davao, tanungin niyo kung sino ‘yan. Itong mga ganito…[You know, I’m not bragging but the fact is, Go is a billionaire. Go to Davao. Find out who he is….]
It seems to appear na intervening because of what? Money? The things that you are telling here never happened. ‘Pag magtanggap kami ng ganun, ipasa namin doon sa proper [If we receive papers like these, we send it to the proper..]. if it’s the Justice department, it goes to the Justice department. If the subject matter here is about transportation, it goes to Tugade.”
Is Bong Go really a bilionaire?
Reporters have no idea if he is.
Because Bong Go’s net worth nor SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) have never been released by Malacañang Palace.
Did Bong Go really intervene in this deal?
Nothing ties him to the deal except that post-it-note that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had attached to the “white paper” given to him inside the palace dissing one supplier and praising the other, which Lorenzana then routed to Philippine Navy chief Ronald Mercado.
Lorenzana told the Navy’s flag officer-in-command:
“Ronald, This was given to me by Bong Go. Go over it and prepare a report/rebuttal to be submitted to the Pres.”
Lorenzana’s note was dated over a year ago – on January 12, 2017.
Four days after Rappler published its report, the Department of National Defense (DND) came out with a statement that Lorenzana had made a mistake.
“The Secretary of National Defense is confirming that no intervention or interference by Sec. Bong Go happened. The document that the SND alluded to have been given to him by Sec. Bong Go was handed to him at the Palace, so he assumed that it came from Sec. Go, the Special Assistant to the President and Chief of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS). It should be noted that the one of the tasks of the PMS includes the official routing and endorsement of documents to government agencies concerned, for appropriate action.
There was neither hint nor guidance from the Palace or from Sec. Bong Go to influence the implementation of the project.“
Two curious things about these revelations
First, going by the DND statement it seems that for one year Sec. Lorenzana had mistakenly assumed that the white paper had come from Bong Go.
Second, both the DND and Duterte had stressed that one of the tasks of the Presidential Management Staff—an office under Bong Go—was to receive papers and forward them to the proper government agency.
As Duterte told Rappler’s Pia Ranada,
“We are just an office that receives complaints or papers for reference and we transmit them to the proper agency. We do not get any money. We are not interested in that. Para sa kaalaman ninyo, you can stop your suspicious mind from roaming somewhere else. But since you are a fake news outlet then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake.”
Duterte is right. A reporter’s mind is naturally suspicious. We always look for deviations from the norm.
And there are two deviations from the norm that stand out in this particular case.
First, if the PMS or any other Palace unit had received the white paper that was later forwarded to Lorenzana, why was there no stamp, bar code and signature on the document showing it had been officially received by that palace unit?
Reporters like myself were made aware of the importance of that official stamp and bar code because of previous incidents where documents had surfaced ostensibly from the presidential palace. The PMS had disowned these documents due to the absence of the stamp and the bar code.
And second, usually, there would have been a cover letter or at least a marginal note from a palace official saying where a document is to be forwarded. In this case, there is none.
Only Lorenzana’s note gave away the fact that someone in Malacanang Palace had handed him the white paper. Whoever gave it to Lorenzana must have been trustworthy since he had accepted and forwarded it even though it was neither stamped “received” nor even signed.
AND THEN, someone else waited an entire year to leak the white paper with Lorenzana’s note to the press.
Lorenzana hasn’t said who gave it to him. But he said it wasn’t Bong Go.
Frankly, our curiosity would not have been aroused if the navy chief had not been sacked so unceremoniously just before Christmas last month over the same deal. To be sacked just before Christmas is pretty serious.
Did this sacking prompt someone to release the document?
As for Duterte’s defense that Bong Go doesn’t care for any under-the-table deals because he’s already very rich – well, that kind of argument has been contradicted by Duterte himself.
Duterte has repeatedly accused “the elite” – who are presumably very rich – of engaging in various anomalies to defraud the government.
JANUARY 21, 2018 AT 2:48 PM
hold your horses.
you are running ahead of the story.
but it’s really getting curiouser and curiouser, like in Alice in Wonderland.
@raisa, wait.. what? curiouser and curiouser? where the f#ck did you get your diploma girl? lol
It’s from Alice in Wonderland, idiotme.
Never heard of it?
Basa pa more.
Juan de la vega says
with the looks, movements and gestures of bong go his no billionaire his just a “boy friday”
Ermie Llanos says
yes, but i guess ikaw yung pulubi dito. Bong Go is the Son of a billionaire family. adto sa davao pangutana didto aron kabalo ka. dili kay bula bula lang dayon imong baba morag nakakaon ka ug vitsin.
What is the name of the family corporation?
Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Tesoro Go
Tesoro Printing Press
You know, the lopez family as a whole is rich but the grand kids aren’t that rich.
By the way another nail in the Duterte ”poor” coffin
When Halili died while playing basketball in 1998, Duterte and Go had the chance to talk during Halili’s wake, during which the mayor mentioned a house, car, and personal belongings that he had left unattended in Manila. Go volunteered to check on the house, which he did after the 1998 elections when Duterte was running for his first and only term as congressman.
Read more: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/local-news/2016/06/30/when-he-says-hell-do-it-expect-him-really-do-it-482471
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Ps. The joke 2 weeks ago with the PSG that Duterte did act like going out on his motorbike (Harley) revealed that also the Harley was not in his 2015 SALN
Ermie Llanos says
At isa pa, ikaw raissa nakakasuka ka na, buwisit ka sa buhay naming mga Filipino!
Hey, I wasn’t the one who said bong Go was a bilionaire.
Sitahin niyo lodi nyo.
Hmmmm…so if Bong Go is a bilyonaryo then he must have paid many millions in taxes but if he is not then PDU30 is a liar (not so shocking) and Bonggo might be really trying to exert some influence on the Navy into buying Korean to earn some $ on the side.
Let’s chk his SALN to make the situation clearer
Yes, we are waiting for his SALN.
During the elections, even the old crazy old man says that they are poor. Paano magiging billionaire ang alalay? The crazy old man is saying this simply to cover up Bong.
Now, mas lalo nila pipilitin ang NO-ELECTION and push the con-con, This will be their only way to save themselves
SINGERS AND COVER UPS?
2.4 billion shabu-reinstate Faeldon to a higher position baka kumanta?
17 billion navy frigate-remove navy chief, baka kumanta? bilyonaryo si bong go,baka rin kumanta?
pano kung kumanta si Isabelle Du30 vs bong go?
Bilyon bilyon na ang kantahan,,,Davao really has a different karaoke?
hintayin natin sa february kung ano ang kanikanilang mga kanta. aalis daw si sen. 3llanes at babalik bandang february kaya may senate hearing to chaired by sen. honassan and vice chairman si sen lacson
Ermie Llanos says
wala eh, supalpal idol nyong asong askal na c trollanes. puro daw kasi fake new ang rappler. kita nyo nag walk out sa hearing ang pikon
ukay ukay sa ” Bilyon bilyon na ang kantahan” sa davao.
Bong Go’s billions? From where; from what? Hasn’t he worked for Du30 most of his professional life?
Tobias Jove says
Di ko alam kung may isda na nahuhuli sa buntot ng mga namimingwet o nangingisda.
dong, dili isda na, that’s a big shark from dabaw. when caught, it’s hang upside down by its tail, he,he, he.
Restituto Refuerzo says
No need to get agitated, sir president, if what you’re saying is the truth.
agitation and anger as in frustration po yan kaya naninigaw, hoping he will be left in peace and undisturbed, the journalist intimidated thus, cowed and silenced. not rappler’s though.
sus, the president can yell until all his teeth fall off but he still has to answer question, the sooner the better. leave it for later, and journalists will come up with more and more questions to ask. kaya, questions are best answered precisely and promptly. thank you and goodbye.
ah, frustration. biro mo, the president has chief of staff to do his bidding, make things smooth and easy for him, and now, it’s the president seemingly doing the bidding for the chief of staff. parang binaliktad ang role nila.
if chief of staff is proving to be pain in the butt, he can be fired.
Isabelle Duterte to Bong Go’s son: Stop bashing me or I’ll spill your family’s secrets!
“Ang weird makita nung pre-debut photoshoot ni….Parang may sense of entitlement and dating. Nagpose pa siya sa likod ng seal…Weird, so weird…” Go tweeted.
Isabelle didn’t let it pass and answered back saying “Weird lang dahil Papa mo yung kausap in the process….Omg!?!???? Shocker.”
The young Duterte then continued her rant reminding Go to keep his feet on the ground because it doesn’t look good that he’s bashing someone related to the person whom his father worked for.
“you bash someone related to the person who your dad works for, konteng tingin sa pinanggalingan. keep your feet on the ground.” she said
And that doesn’t stop there as Isabelle dropped the bomb threatening Go that she will spill their family’s secret which according to her holds a bigger scandal.
“you’ve been to places i’ve never been to. so don’t hit me with that entitlement bullshit, kasi you know who between the two of our families hold a bigger scandal. if you’ve lost that much respect for ourfamily, i won’t hesitate to spill eveything i know about yours”,
Why would a ”billionaire’ work as assistant for Duterte ?
Is he a bagman for Duterte?
If you read this conversation between the 2 young people there is a reason to feel something is going in in Davao…right?
Dapat i investigate ng BUR kung nagbayad si bong Go ng income tax ng billions nya. 😣
Kaya Galit na galit si du30?
huling huli na korap pala sila with Bong Go’s
prints all over the place tapos naclarify pa ng Palace
about Lorenzana na akala nya galing kay Bong Go
tapos tinanggal yung Navy chief…hehehehe
nagkakalat na ang du30-chinese governor of the philippines…
that is how duterte modernize the navy with whiffs of corruption, the navy chief given marching order and out of the way, bong go doing the wheeling and dealing on the boardwalk down by the sea . . . lorenzana doing the courier work, 17 billions plus squandered, commission on audits had better take note.
my bet po, is that from the 17billion, only around 6billion goes to purchasing frigates, the rest goes to line the pockets of misters big. commissions galore! a number of people will get paid big time in this once in a lifetime deal, he, he, he.
hold your horses.
you are running ahead of the story.
but it’s really getting curiouser and curiouser, like in Alice in Wonderland.
my apologies po, sorry.
Pag official transaction di ba dapat May seal & bar code . Doon nagkaroon ng malisyosong transaction . So parang lumalabas na ang pinapalabas ay billionaires si Bong kaya exempted na sa anomalya. Who is Bong Go? Alalay saan? Bagman??
sa taas may photo…bong go may dala na BAG!
bagman nga sya.
ops, akala ko’y lunch box niya ang bag na yan. maybe, with kubyertos taken from chinese hotels, also pilfered relics of ex premier mao, he, he, he.
Arnold S. Marcelo says
Bakit galit na galit si PDu30? Puede namang mag clarify ng ayos.
Di naman gumagawa lang ng sariling istorya ang Rappler. Congressman ang source ng Rappler at nag follow up lang sila sa istorya.
Sana nga sa SALN ni Mr. Go ay bilyonaryo siya.
At mali nga na sabihing dahil bilyonaryo ay di ng mag corrupt dahil si PDu30 mismo ang kesyo galit sa Oligarchs.
Maganda talaga rito ay magkaroon ng Senate inquiry para malinawan.
Sec. Lorenzana had mistakenly assumed that the white paper had come from Bong Go.
bakit si sec. lorenzana mag a-asume na yun puting papel galing kay bong go at hindi galing sa ibang opisyal sa palasyo?
ilang puting papel na ang na ibigay sa ibang opisyales na galing kay bong go?
siguro maraming puting papel na!
toilet paper kasama?
well, it it looks like bong go, walks like bong go, talks like bong go, it must be ghost of bong go! kaya kalbo si lorenzana, sa takot yata. he has seen a ghost! merde!
Kung si binay ay may Mercado, hindi kaya si duterte ay may bongGo? Sino nauna nag report ng anomaly a sa frigate purchase contract? Kc Inereport na rin yan ni Rep. Gary Alejano, privilege speech pa. Limot lang ako kung sino nauna. Rep. Alejano, inquirer, o rappler? Without the post it note of Sec. Lorenzana, pwede pala nilang ideny ang white paper na iyan per not having stamped and barcode, unless nagbago na kanilang pamamaraan to handle such paper.