Alvarez clears Calida on HOR security contract

Published May 31, 2018, 4:56 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Ben Rosario

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has cleared Solicitor General Jose Calida of any impropriety in the dealings made by family-owned security agency with the House of Representatives.

Alvarez aired this assertion despite a call by the House minority bloc to have Calida investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez TOTO (LOZANO/Presidential Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez TOTO (LOZANO/Presidential Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

“As far as we are concerned, as long as it went through the proper procurement, the bidding, it is not our obligation to know who the owner is,” Alvarez said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency, headed by Calida’s wife, Milagros, was reportedly awarded a P96.19 million security service contract with the Lower House.

It was gathered that Calida used to head Vigilant as it chairman and president. He resigned on June 30, 2016. He owned 60 percent of the company’s shares while Milagros and their three children hold ten percent each.

Vigilant took over Lockheed Security Agency after the latter’s contract expired last year.

However, the takeover of Vigilant was not without controversy. It reportedly did not have enough manpower when it took over the House security services and had to “pirate” Lockheed’s personnel for the job.

Alvarez stressed that there is no need to scrutinize the owner of contractors dealing with the Lower House in order to ensure impartiality in the bidding process.

He also claimed that “nothing in the law states you have to look into the owners of the company who participate in the bidding.”

“In our case, I said, do not look into whoever owns it. As long as they comply with the bidding requirements, submit the proper documents, you bid it out,” Alvarez said.

The House leader said he does not participate in the bidding process and the awarding of the contracts.

“I’m not aware. I’m not involved in the bidding and the award of the contracts,” he said.

Opposition Reps. Eugene De Vera (ABS Partylist) and Alfredo Garbin (AKO Bicol Partylist) said the Ombudsman can conduct a moto propio probe into the controversy.

“On their own, the graft investigators of the office of the Ombudsman may look into the issue even without anybody telling them,” said De Vera.

According to the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (Philgeps), Vigilant first won the contract with the House by submitting the lowest calculated responsive bid in a public bidding on Jan. 20, 2017. That contract, covering the period of February to December 2017, was worth P42.456 million.

On Dec. 20, 2017, Vigilant won the second contract for the entire year of 2018, priced at P53.734 million. This time, Vigilant submitted the “single calculated responsive bid”—which meant it was the only eligible bidder for the contract.