Calida agency also bagged contract with Congress, lawmakers claim

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2018 08:47 PM

Solicitor General Jose Calida. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A security agency allegedly owned by the wife of Solicitor General Jose Calida also bagged the contract to provide security guard services to the House of Representatives, lawmakers Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin revealed Monday.

Alejano revealed the information on social media.

"Calida’s Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Incorporated, earns at least P150 million in contracts with various government agencies including the Department of Justice, which, supervises the budget of the Office of the Solicitor General. This alone, implicates him in violation of the government’s Code of Conduct. Add the fact that Calida’s company was able to secure 10 government contracts right after he became Solicitor General. Even the long-time security agency in the House of Representatives, Lockheed, was kicked out at the onset of the 17th Congress and replaced by that of Calida's. Clearly, there is cause for suspicion over these dealings," Alejano, in a separate statement, added.

Alejano’s tweet came just as fellow opposition lawmakers slammed conflict of interest in Calida’s ownership of the security agency.

"It is clear as day that conflict of interest is manifest as Solgen Calida has clear financial interests in a government contract awarded to his family corporation worth at least P150.815-M as reported, including a contract with the House of Representatives," Villarin alleged.

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio slammed the Palace for defending Calida. 

"Why is the Presidential spokesperson lawyering for Solicitor-General Calida? Sec. Roque is preposterously arguing that there is no conflict of interest in Calida's security agency cornering P150 million in government contracts. Malacañang is exposing the double standard in President Duterte's so-called campaign against corruption within his own Cabinet," he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier claimed that critics seeking vengeance could be behind moves to question deals between various government agencies and a security agency owned by Calida.

"There should be no sacred cow here just because you are close to President Duterte. Just a whiff of corruption but here we have a heap of dung that really smells bad," Villarin added.

"Calida must be investigated. Kahit hindi uso sa administrasyong ito ang transparency, accountability, at delicadeza, hindi dapat hinahayaan ang ganitong paggamit ng mga opisyal sa kanilang pwesto para sa kanilang mga pansariling interes. Kung nais niyang pagsilbihan ang administrasyon, humanap siya ng negosyo sa labas nito. Hindi maaring magkasabay na amo at kliyente niya ang gobyerno. Dapat pumili siya: negosyo o bayan?" Alejano also said.

Documents showed Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (VISAI), a security firm owned by Calida's wife, Milagros, signed multimillion-peso contracts with at least 3 government agencies, months after his appointment as the government's chief lawyer in 2016.

VISAI bagged several contracts with the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) from 2016 to 2018, documents from these agencies showed. 

The Office of the Solicitor General earlier said there is no conflict of interest in the contracts between the security firm owned by Calida's wife and a government agency.

Office of the Solicitor General spokesman Atty. Hector Calilung said Calida resigned as chairman and president of Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc., on May 30, 2016 before assuming office.

These came to light as Calida faced graft charges at the Office of the Ombudsman, where a private complainant alleged that he still owned 60 percent of the security agency. 

Calida has yet to comment regarding the lawmakers' allegations.