By Genalyn Kabiling
Solicitor General Jose Calida will stay in his post after President Duterte refused to fire him over the controversial government contracts obtained by his family’s security firm.
At a Bureau of Customs (BoC) event in Manila, the President said he believes that Calida is “good,” adding that his family has the right to conduct legitimate business.
“Itong si Calida. Matagal na ‘yung security guard niya. Noon pa ‘yan [On Calida, his security guard firm has been established a long time ago]. Why should I fire him? He’s good. He’s also from Davao but Ilokano ‘yan,” the President said in his remarks.
“He’s good. Bakit wala na ba tayong katwirang magnegosyo [Why, don’t we have the right to do business?]. As long as we do not participate, the fact that you have divested in the sense that you have retired,” he added.
Duterte also advised people against imputing malice on legitimate businesses. “’Wag mong na pilitin na [don’t force that] just because he retired, ‘Hindi mag-ano pa ‘yan siya [he would so something bad]. So why do you have to attribute malice there?” he added.
Calida has recently been accused of conflict of interest after his family’s security agency obtained contracts with government agencies worth more than P150 million.
Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (VISAI), owned by Calida and his family, reportedly signed 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.
Some lawmakers have demanded Calida’s dismissal over the latest controversy.
Calida however has denied graft allegations, saying he already quit his post as president and chair of VIsai before he was appointed to head the Office of the Solicitor General in 2016.
His camp also maintained that there was no conflict of interest since the OSG does not regulate or supervise security agencies like VISAI.