OPINION: In July, Calida sought a businessman’s help with Trillanes

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Oct 05 2018 07:17 PM

Solicitor General Jose Calida had sought the help of a prominent businessman to talk with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to go easy on him in the investigation of the multi-million contracts that his family-owned security agency got with the government, a violation Republic Act 6173, the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees.

This was in July this year, a few weeks after six opposition senators filed a resolution for the investigation of the government contracts obtained by Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency, Inc. (VISAI) where Calida sits as president.

Calida, a source said, wanted Trillanes “to do a Gordon.” Those who have watched Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon committee, treat resource persons close to President Duterte during hearings, understand Calida’s request.

Calida did not get an assurance from Trillanes. So, he tried other means to stop Trillanes from pursuing the investigation of the family-owned security firm. That’s when he started working on the revocation of Trillanes’ amnesty. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana remembers it was on Aug. 16 that Calida called him up asking for Trillanes’ amnesty records from the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Calida’s alleged failure to find a copy of Trillanes’ application for amnesty became the basis for the President Duterte’s Aug. 31 Proclamation 572 declaring void ab initio the amnesty granted to Trillanes by the President Benigno Aquino III and ordered for the senator’s immediate arrest.

So many things have happened – laws have been twisted and violated blatantly - and more information have been revealed by military officers debunking the basis of Proclamation 572 since Sept. 4, when Proclamation 572 was released publicly.

The country’s democratic institutions took a beating just to save Calida from having to answer his security agency’s dealings with the government. 

But a source said Calida had a more serious concern about the Senate investigation. He said he was afraid that the free-wheeling probe would revive talks about his alleged affair with his executive assistant (EA). 

It will be recalled that in May, a private citizen Jocelyn Marie Acosta-Nisperos filed a complaint vs. Calida at the Office of the Ombudsman “of having an affair with his 22-year-old executive assistant, who allegedly received P1.8 million in public funds as compensation.”

Nisperos alleged, "When Calida's wife found out about the affair and the corruption, she confronted him in his office last April 23. Calida and his alleged EA have since then taken a leave of absence from the OSG." 

"By divesting P1.8 million from public funds to whom he is having an illicit relationship with, Calida is guilty of malversation that is punishable under the (Revised Penal Code)," Nisperos added.

So afraid was Calida of the Senate investigation that he even asked the Supreme Court to stop it.

But it was not necessary after all because last week, Gordon said investigating Calida is not his committee’s priority.

But the truth will find a way to come out. Last Tuesday, armed with documents, Trillanes, in a privileged speech showed a clear conflict of interest in the contracts obtained by Calida’s VISAI even as he continued to be a majority shareholder even after his appointment as Solicitor General in July 2016.

Trillanes said a check with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed that as of March 30, 2018, Calida was still holds “equivalent to 80 percent” of VISAI’s shares.

Trillanes enumerated the P358.3 million government contracts Calida’s firms have “cornered” during the Duterte administration: “Sa DOJ, P6.5 million at isang kontrata na P5.6 million; sa Pagcor, isang P17.5 million, isang P5.8 million, isang P25.6 million, isang P71.6 million, isang P2.5 million, isang P43.9 million, at isang P15.2 million; sa National Electrification Administration, P17.9 million; sa National Anti-Poverty Commission, P2.8 million; sa NEDA, P6.8 million; sa House of Representatives, P53.7 million at P42.4 million; at sa National Parks Development Committee, P29.2 million at P10.3 million. So, all in all, DOJ, P12 million; Pagcor, P182 million; sa NEA, P17.9 million; NAPC, P2.8 million; NEDA, P6.8 million; House of Representatives, P96 million; National Parks Development Committee, P39.6 million, for a grand total of P358.3 million contracts with different government agencies.”

RA 6173 states that government officials “… shall not, during said tenure, 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 or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries. They shall strictly avoid conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.” 


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(Editor's note: Ms. Ellen Tordesillas is a veteran journalist. She is president of VERA Files, verafiles.org, an independent media organization of veteran Filipino journalists who take a deeper look into current Philippine issues. She also writes for malaya.com.ph)

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.