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Ex Navy flag officer breaks silence, waits for probe

Erstwhile Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado yesterday broke his silence about his “unceremonious” relief, admitting he was hurt but stressed that as a soldier he only follows orders.

Mercado was ordered relieved by President Duterte, upon the recommendation of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, last Dec. 22 for allegedly delaying the P15 billion frigate acquisition project of the Philippine Navy.
He is subsequently placed on a floating status and reporting to the office of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
According to Mercado, he is preparing for any possible investigation of his “unceremonious” relief.
“I am still a full-blooded Navy officer because I am floating…I report to the office (of the chief of staff)…I am fine right now, I am preparing what I need to…if there are any investigation,” said Mercado.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a former Marine captain, is calling for a congressional inquiry into Mercado’s relief.
Asked of his relief, Mercado replied “I am a military officer, I obey orders. I know the secretary of national defense, he has some justification for doing it so I respect it.”
“Of course, I was hurt because I was the flag officer in command then I was relieved but that’s it. As I’ve said I’ve been a soldier in my life,” he added.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Matikas” Class of 1983, Mercado was scheduled to reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 this coming March.
But he admitted that retiring earlier that his mandatory retirement remains an option.
“Those are options available to me but I am not yet have been thinking about it because I am more concerned with preparing for possible investigation, if there is one,” said Mercado.
Military insiders claimed that Mercado only fought for what is beneficial to the Philippine Navy in the installation of a more sophisticated combat management system (CMS) for the two frigates contracted with Hyundai heavy Industries of South Korea.
Lorenzana even met with former Navy chiefs to explain the relief of Mercado, whom he (Lorenzana) accused of insubordination.

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