Ombudsman probes Calida security firm’s contracts

Solicitor General Jose Calida is facing an investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with his family’s security agency that had contracts with the government, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

“Ibig sabihin, kliyente mo ang NEDA dahil ikaw ay may security agency na nakipag-kontrata sa iyo and at the same time, kliyente mo ang NEDA dahil ikaw ang magre-represent sa kanya sa husgado or kaso na ilalahad sa iyo. So iyan ang tinitignan ng mga investigators [You mean, NEDA is your client because it has a contract with your security agency and at the same time, NEDA is your client because you will represent it in courts or in cases that it presents to you. So that is what investigators are looking at],” Morales told ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol in an interview.

NEDA is the National Economic and Development Authority.

On May 10, private citizen Jocelyn Acosta-Nisperos filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Calida.

Nisperos alleged that, among others, the solicitor general violated Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees when he supposedly “failed to completely divest his business interests in his family corporation” upon assuming his post.

She later filed a letter following up the Office of the Ombudsman’s action on the complaint.

According to the letter, which was filed on June 1 and addressed to Morales, the 2016 General Information Sheet of Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (Visai) supposedly showed that Calida owned 60 percent of its capital stock.

“Visai then acts as the security agency of at least six [6] government agencies, namely the Department of Justice [to which the Office of the Solicitor General is attached], the House of Representatives, the National Economic and Development Authority, the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the National Parks Development Corporation,” Nisperos said.

She added that government contracts worth P261.39 million have supposedly been awarded to Visai.

“The foregoing shows a clear conflict of interest,” Nisperos said.

Morales said the complaint is under fact-finding investigation and that “they’re still gathering documents.”

Calida has explained that he resigned from Visai before his appointment as Solicitor General.

Also in the complaint which she filed on May 10, Nisperos alleged that Calida “unconstitutionally instituted quo warranto proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno despite the express mandate under Article XI, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution that an impeachable officer can only be removed through impeachment, then refused to institute a similar quo warranto case against Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro for the same grounds used against the Chief Justice.”

She earlier asked Calida to file a quo warranto petition against de Castro.

Calida denied the request.

On May 11, voting 8-6, the Supreme Court granted Calida’s petition for quo warranto, ousting Sereno as chief justice.

“By filing the baseless and illegal quo warranto petition with the Supreme Court, respondent is inducing the Supreme Court to sustain an illegal act and a violation of the Constitution. Respondent is therefore guilty of Section 3[a]of RA 3019,” Nisperos said in the complaint.

RA 3019 is the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

This law’s Section 3(a) prohibits a public officer from persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority.

Nisperos also accused Calida of malversation, alleging that he diverted P1.8 million in public funds to a person with whom he allegedly had “an illicit relationshaip.”

She further accused him of violating Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code as she alleged that he “has exhibited total bias in favor of the Marcoses…”

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