De Lima: Calida is new ‘role model’ in gov’t corruption

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has labeled Solicitor General Jose Calida as the “role model” in government corruption after his family’s firm bagged millions of pesos in government contracts since he assumed office in 2016.

De Lima said Calida has made making a profit out of government office a practice worth emulating the same way that Duterte has made extrajudicial killings normal and acceptable as a government policy.

“Solicitor General Jose Calida is the Duterte administration’s new poster boy on corruption, not for going against it, but for mainstreaming it in the national psyche,” she said in her latest Dispatch from Crame No. 319.

Calida’s security firm, Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc., reportedly won at least 10 government contracts between August 2016 and January 2018. Two of these contracts amounting to P12.4 million, were with the Department of Justice (DOJ), which prepares the budget of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

In addition, documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed that Calida still owned 60 percent of shares in the company as of September 29, 2016, roughly two months after he took his oath as Solicitor General.

De Lima said Calida is making sure that he will profit from people’s money while he is still in the position of power.

“It is better for Calida to stay in office in order to remind Filipinos everyday of the rapaciousness of government officials who do not shrink at the mention of their name being involved in corruption, but instead brag about the stocks they own in the company doing business with government,” she said.

“After all, this is what being in power for is, and Calida is not wasting any time in making sure that the amount of his accumulated wealth corresponds to a net profit for every single day he spends in government,” she added.

De Lima has earlier backed mounting calls by her colleagues and some other quarters for Calida to vacate immediately his post as the government’s chief legal counsel, but to no avail.

Last May 30, she and other members of the Senate minority bloc have introduced Senate Resolution No. 760 seeking to investigate Calida for his alleged conflict of interest for bagging fat government contracts for his family-owned security agency.

The Senator from Bicol likewise criticized how Calida violated the Constitution to fulfill his personal agenda.

“The Constitution provides that no Cabinet member or their deputies shall participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof,” she explained.

“By being the majority stockholder of a security agency that has bagged multiple government contracts, Calida is spitting on this constitutional provision,” she added.

For De Lima, letting Calida get away with his crime is tantamount to normalizing thievery and mainstreaming plunder as a way of life in secret.

“If we let him get away with it, we are not only normalizing thievery and mainstreaming plunder as a way of life in secret, but out in the open, where enterprising public officials brag about their ill-gotten wealth as the legitimate fruit of being in power, being corrupt, and being shameless about it,” she added.

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