De Lima slams Calida for snubbing Senate probe

Published September 20, 2018, 4:21 PM

by iManila Developer

By Hannah Torregoza

Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima slammed Solicitor General Jose Calida on Thursday for his continuing refusal to attend the Senate’s inquiry into the multi-million deals his family-owned security firm entered with government agencies.

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

De Lima said Calida is arrogant in snubbing the Senate and doing his constitutional obligation to personally appear before the upper chamber to answer questions about his supposed conflict of interest for bagging fat government contracts for the security agency his family owns.

“Refusing to attend the Senate hearings about his family’s security firm is showing an outright disrespect of the Senate and its rules,” de Lima said.

She said Calida is not exempted from the scrutiny of the Senate as it exercises its oversight power over alleged favored contracts with government.

“Just because he is a Solicitor General doesn’t exempt him from public scrutiny,” she stressed.

Calida’s security firm, Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc., reportedly won at least 10 government contracts between August 2016 and January 2018, a matter which is now being investigated by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, another opposition lawmaker and vocal critic of the Duterte administration.

Two of these contracts amounting to P12.4 million were with the Department of Justice (DOJ), which prepares the budget of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

Even though Calida has denied any conflict of interest, documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed he owned 60 percent of shares in the company as of Sept. 29, 2016, or two months since he became Solicitor General.

Jose Bernas, who represented Calida during the hearing, insisted that his client would not attend the Senate hearings due to his pending petition before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to stop the Senate from conducting its inquiry.

“If Calida is not guilty of violating the Constitution to fulfill his personal agenda, he should not be afraid to attend and probed during the course of the Senate hearings,” De Lima said.