Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado (Source: philstar.com)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippines has relieved Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado from his position of Philippine navy chief, announced the National Defence Department of the Philippines on December 20.

Speaking with reporters, Defence Secretary of the Philippines Delfin Lorenzana said the navy chief was sacked due to a disagreement over the building of two new warships worth 15.5 billion PHP (309 million USD).

In 2016, the Philippine Government inked a deal with Hyundai Heavy Industries of the Republic of Korea to build two warships to be delivered in the Philippines in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Lorenzana said the project was already several months behind schedule because the navy had failed to complete a design review on the vessels in time for the contractor to start work.

He alleged the navy chief was delaying the project to force the government and Hyundai to award a separate contract for the warships' combat management system to another foreign company.

Lorenzana said this is tantamount to insubordination, adding that the admiral is not under investigation for corruption.

Mercado has not publicly responded to Lorenzana's allegations.-VNA