Palace welcomes Senate probe vs Calida


Posted at May 31 2018 06:59 PM

Solicitor General Jose Calida, in a press briefing at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on May 26, 2017. Malacanang Photo

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday welcomed a possible Senate probe into government contracts bagged by the security firm owned by Solicitor General Jose Calida’s family.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Senate can do the probe “if they wish” so.

“I can’t tell the Senate what they want to do,” Roque said in a press briefing.

“The President has said he will not fire Secretary Calida because of this controversy, which sustains my earlier legal view that Solicitor General Calida is not guilty of conflict of interest.”

Minority senators on Wednesday filed a resolution urging the Senate to investigate Calida over the government contracts.

Senate Resolution 760 urged the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization Committee, headed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, to look into government contracts awarded to the Calida-owned Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (VISAI).

The resolution said Calida still owns 60 percent of VISAI's shares as of September 29, 2016 "or after two months after he assumed office."

The resolution also said that "from August 2016 to January 2018, VISAI won 14 government contracts, two of which were with the Department of Justice and amounted to P12.4 million and the nine of which were won after he assumed the position of Solicitor General."

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said his department will now look into its contracts with VISAI, despite his earlier statement that the deals complied with procurement laws and guidelines.

Roque said Guevarra’s decision “is the better course of action para malinaw (so it will be clear) ones and for all kung talagang nagkaroon ng conflict of interest (if there is conflict of interest).”

Calida said on Thursday he will not resign over the issue and threatened to fight back at his critics, a day after President Duterte defended him.