Calida’s family failed to secure a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the probe. So the Senate committee on civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation proceeded with the hearing yesterday.
Geremy Pintolo
Trillanes panel proceeds with probe of Jose Calida
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The presidential order for the immediate arrest of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV did not stop his panel’s inquiry yesterday into the contracts with different government agencies awarded to the security agency owned by Solicitor General Jose Calida and his family.

Calida’s family failed to secure a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the probe. So the Senate committee on civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation proceeded with the hearing yesterday.

A total of nine bills were taken up during the hearing, one of which was Senate Bill 1924, or the proposed amendments to Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for government officials and employees.

It was in the consideration of that bill that the contracts between the Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency (VISA) Inc., which is owned by the family of Calida, and the different government agencies were taken up.

Calida has stated he has resigned as president of VISA and as such was no longer required to divest his shares in the company.

In VISA’s disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dated July 13, 2016, it was noted that he has resigned as president of the company.

Calida argued that RA 6713 gives the option to a public official to either resign as an official of a company or to divest his shares in that company.

In his presentation, Trillanes showed that Calida, even after he was appointed solicitor general by President Duterte in 2016, remained the majority shareholder and president of VISA.

This was reflected in the general information sheets submitted by VISA to the SEC for the years 2016 to 2018.

Even in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website, Trillanes noted that Calida remained the president and contact person of VISA for the government contracts.

Trillanes noted that VISA secured contracts with seven government agencies, namely the Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., National Electrification Administration, National Anti-Poverty Commission, National Economic and Development Authority, House of Representatives and the National Parks Development Committee.

He said the contracts secured by VISA with the seven agencies amounted to P358.332 million.

Some of the contracts were awarded as late as last December and January.

Trillanes said Calida violated several laws, including the Constitution, which states that public officials shall not directly or indirectly practice any other profession, participate in any business or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the government.

The Constitution also states that they shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.

Trillanes said there was clear conflict of interest on the part of Calida since as solicitor general, he represents the government, its agencies and instrumentalities in any litigation or proceeding.

Since he is a majority shareholder of VISA and the company has contracts with the seven government agencies, Trillanes said Calida is in effect the lawyer of these agencies.

In their comments during the hearing, the Civil Service Commission and the DOJ both agreed that an amendment of RA 6713 is needed to address the weakness of the conflict of interest provision.

Trillanes said he intends to file the appropriate charges against Calida.

ANTONIO TRILLANES IV JOSE CALIDA SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION SUPREME COURT
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