President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has named long-time family loyalist Jose Calida as the new Chairman of the Commission on Audit (COA), an independent constitutional body whose head is appointed with consent of Congress’ Commission on Appointments for a fixed term of seven years without reappointment.
The 71-year-old Calida is no stranger to serving in government. He served as Justice undersecretary during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and, most recently, as former President Rodrigo Duterte’s solicitor general. He is known to have campaigned actively for the tandem of Duterte and Marcos for president and vice-president, respectively, in the 2016 elections.
Under Calida, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) went after Duterte’s critics like former senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Calida will now be leading the COA, an independent constitutional commission that examines, audits, and settle all accounts and expenditures of funds and properties of the Philippine government.
Records show, however, that the OSG, under Calida’s watch, was flagged by COA from 2016 to 2018 for high allowances for lawyers, including himself. Their allowances had supposedly quadrupled their basic salary when COA said that they could not receive allowances from client agencies more than half their basic salary.
Over the years, COA has been instrumental in exposing corruption issues, including the pork barrel scam that the administration of the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III worked on.
Under the Duterte administration, COA’s annual audit reports prompted investigations into the government’s pandemic spending, particularly the controversial procurement of Covid-19 equipment through the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.