‘No legal basis’ on Calida petition vs Senate probe — Trillanes

Published August 17, 2018, 4:16 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Antonio Trllanes IV disputed Solicitor-General Jose Calida in his attempt to stop the Senate’s investigation on the transactions of his family-owned security agency with the government.

Trillanes, on Friday, said he finds “no legal basis” on Calida’s petition asking the Supreme Court (SC) for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against any Senate inquiry into the allegedly questionable contracts secured by their firm, Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency, Inc. (VISAI) with several government agencies.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV gestures during during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s probe on the smuggling of the P6.4-billion shabu from Xiamen, China. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV

“Let me remind Mr. Calida that he is not a sacred cow. He does not have any immunity from any legislative inquiry. Thus, his petition for TRO has no legal basis,” he said in a statement.

Trillanes, who was the respondent in Calida’s petition, said the Upper Chamber will continue its investigation on the issue as he vowed to expose the government lawyer’s “corrupt practices.”

“Mark me, no matter where he hides, Mr. Calida’s corrupt practices will soon be exposed,” he said.

Calida and his family, last Tuesday, sought the SC for the issuance of a TRO against Trillanes, who, they argued, “has no legal authority” to initiate and conduct investigations on the accountability of public officers.

It was Trillanes, as chair of the Senate Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation, who invited Calida to the Senate inquiry.

They want the TRO to stop Trillanes, “or any person acting on his behalf,” from conducting any legislative inquiry on his family’s security firm.

The Senate inquiry, however, would actually be led by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon. Trillanes’ committee, meanwhile, was assigned as the secondary panel.

The Gordon committee had scheduled the public hearing for August 16, but eventually cancelled it Wednesday afternoon.

The Senate’s investigation about Calida’s company stemmed from a resolution by members of the Senate minority bloc who sought a probe into VISAI’s contracts with the government for supposed conflict of interest.

VISAI had bagged more than P261 million worth of contracts from 14 government departments, such as the House of Representatives, Department of Justice and National Economic Development Authority.

Although Calida resigned from the company, records showed he has not divested and still owns 60 percent of the firms’ shares, while his wife and three children owning the remaining 40 percent of the shares at 10 percent each.

Earlier on Thursday, Sens. Aquilino Pimentel III and Franklin Drilon said the Senate can continue with its hearings unless a TRO from the SC is issued.