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Lorenzana cites reasons for Mercado’s relief

Usurpation of authority, insubordination, and violation of the procurement law were the reasons for the relief of Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado from his post as Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command in December 2017.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said this on Wednesday during the hearing of the House of Representatives which was looking into Mercado’s unceremonious ouster in connection with the P16-billion Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Lorenzana said that Mercado committed three violations in connection with the frigate deal, noting that he had “lost trust and confidence in his ability to lead the Philippine Navy.”

He pointed out that Mercado’s insistence on Thales Tacticos as the supplier of the combat management system violated a provision of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act as the law prohibits the specification of a brand.

He added that Mercado’s side trip to the Netherlands to visit Thales was also against the no-contact policy of the procurement law.

The defense chief also accused Mercado of usurpation of authority and insubordination, stressing that the FAP’s implementation has been  the “sole responsibility of the Secretary of Defense.”

“How can you continue to have confidence and trust on a leader who interferes in a legally binding contract, usurped your authority and defy your orders?” he asked.

Lorenzana stressed that there was no issue in the FAP which should have moved smoothly” except for Mercado’s insistence in the acquisition of CMS of Thales.

“The frigate project was conducted above-board, and I will ensure that it will continue that way until the two frigates are delivered to the Philippine Navy in accordance with the contract agreement,” he said.

The frigates, along with their weapons system and munitions, are covered by a contract worth P18 billion signed by Lorenzana in October 2016. with PNA report