Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has criticized Solicitor General Jose Calida for his hypocrisy after he denied any conflict of interest in relation to the P150-million worth of government contracts bagged by his family-own security agency since he assumed office in 2016.
De Lima, the fiercest critic of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, also backed mounting calls by her colleagues and some other quarters for Calida to vacate immediately his post as the government’s chief legal counsel.
“It disturbs me that Calida has no qualms to give undue advantage to his family’s security business, thereby profiting from people’s money. He should immediately resign from his post as Solicitor General because of this corruption anomaly,” she said.
“But what disturbs me the most is his hypocrisy; he has the gall to claim that there is no conflict of interest despite official records showing that his family-owned security firm bagged P150-million worth of contracts from government agencies,” she added.
Based on news reports, Calida’s security firm, Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Incorporated, won at least 10 government contracts between August 2016 and January 2018.
Notably, 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).
Calida reportedly denied any conflict of interest as he reasoned out that he resigned as chairman and president of Vigilant on May 30, 2016, or before he worked at OSG in July of the same year.
Contrary to Calida’s claim, however, documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed 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’s resignation as chairman and president of Vigilant does not remove the fact that his family, particularly his wife and children, own and operate the business.
“Clearly there is a conflict of interest especially when his own family is profiting from the government,” she said.
Apparently, the Solicitor General’s wife, Milagros Calida, replaced the Solicitor General’s position as president and chairperson of Vigilant. Their children are likewise appointed as vice president, corporate secretary and treasurer of the company.
The Senator from Bicol also urged the government to hold Calida accountable by filing of possible charges against Calida.
“Surely, Calida’s immediate resignation from his post would not settle the issue. He should face the possible charges against him,” she said.