Solgen asks SC to stop Senate probe into security agency
Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc., which provides security personnel to several government agencies, is owned by Solicitor General Jose Calida and his family.
Miguel de Guzman/File

Solgen asks SC to stop Senate probe into security agency

(Philstar.com) - August 16, 2018 - 4:05pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:06 p.m.) — Solicitor General Jose Calida and his family have asked the Supreme Court for a halt order on a Senate inquiry into the alleged conflict of interest in his ownership of a security agency that has government contracts.

Calida filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with urgent application for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction before the SC on August 14.

Solicitor general, his wife Milagros and their three children filed the petition, a copy of which was released to the media on Thursday.

The family owns Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc.

The solicitor general owns 60 percent of the company while his wife and three children own 10 percent each. He has repeatedly stressed that he resigned and chairman of Vigilant on May 30, 2016.

The Calida family is seeking a temporary restraining order on the conduct of a legislative inquiry into the alleged conflict of interest in the solicitor general’s stock ownership of Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc., which has multimillion-peso contracts with several government offices.

According to the Senate website, a committee hearing was scheduled on Thursday morning but was cancelled.

SC asked to void Trillanes invitation

They also asked the SC to declare as “void and unconstitutional” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s letters inviting them to the Senate as they were “issued in respondent’s sole capacity only or without the authority of the Senate or any of its Committees and for serving no legislative purpose.”

According to Calida, Trillanes, in letters dated August 1, invited the Calida family to an inquiry for the purpose of “’threshing out the various issues arising from Proposed Resolution No. 760."

All five petitioners received the letter.

The said resolution urges the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganizaiton to look into the “conflict of interest of Solicitor General Jose Calida, arising from security service contracts between national government agencies and Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc.”

“The letters dated Aug. 1 were all issued from the 'Office of Senator Antonio ‘Sonny’ F. Trillanes IV',” Calida’s petition reads.

According to the Senate Legislative Information System, the resolution has been referred to the Committee on the Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (blue ribbon) and the Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation, which Trillanes heads.

But the solicitor general stressed: “Based on Petitioners’ inquiries through counsel, there is no evidence that the Senate has acted, approved or denied Proposed Resolution No. 760 as of the date of this Petition.”

'Inquiry does not serve legislative purpose'

He also said that the very letter of the Senate’s proposed resolution puts forth “a hard conclusion or premise that the Petitoner Solicitor General has a conflict of interest.”

Calida said that it leaves no room to discuss the issue.

“Clearly the objective of the Proposed Resolution is to conduct an inquiry in order to humiliate and carry out the personal and hostile agenda of the Respondent,” the petition further reads.

The senate resolution was signed by Sens. Trillanes, Risa Hontiveros, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Francis Pangilinan and Leila De Lima.

Calida: Ombudsman has jurisdiction

The solicitor general also claimed that the Sandiganbayan has already acquired jurisdiction over the matter.

Jocelyn Acosta-Nisperos, on May 10, filed a complaint against Calida at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in a public interview before her retirement that field investigators are already conducting fact finding investigation. 

Calida then asked the tribunal to declare the Senate inquiry as void and “permanently prohibit” Trillanes from initiating an inquiry against his family “without legal authority from the Senate and law.”

The SC en banc ordered Trillanes to comment on Calida’s petition within 10 days from receipt of the order. — Kristine Joy Patag

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