Gordon: Probing Calida multi-million peso deals blue ribbon's job

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon said on Thursday, August 16, that he will push for the Senate investigation into the multi-million government contracts bagged by the security agency of Solicitor General Calida, but it will be done in his watch.

Gordon said it is to make sure that Calida will not be humiliated.

“[Insults] can happen, but at least in my watch as chairman, we will stop that if that happens, and we’re not there to humiliate, we’re there to find out what happened and to find out who will be liable and I assure Calida that’s not gonna happen in my watch,” Gordon said.

What’s the issue? There was supposed to be an investigation Thursday morning at the Senate into the propriety of Calida’s firm bagging at least  P261.39 million worth of government contracts since he was appointed solicitor general in July 2016.

In a bid to stop cold the prying eyes of the Senate, Calida filed a petition for injunction at the Supreme Court. Calida said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV did not have proper authority to initiate the probe.

Now, the issue has extended to a Senate internal conflict because while it was Trillanes who initially pushed for the probe, the matter has been referred to the blue ribbon committee chaired by Gordon, an administration ally.

“There’s no tug-of-war, because we decide on matters of law and the rules, the committee on rules says where a matter should go,” Gordon said, insisting that his blue ribbon committee is the proper investigator.

Can Gordon take over the probe? Calida said it is Gordon’s blue ribbon committee instead of Trillanes’ civil service committee which has jurisdiction over the issue.

Still, Calida said the probe is invalid because it does not have a legislative purpose. Senate inquiries are typically conducted to aid legislation.

“We don’t have to go in aid of legislation, because we are there also as an investigative body of the senate for malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance so we can recommend na to file it at the Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Justice or whatever so they can proceed,” Gordon said.

Gordon said he is ready to answer to Calida’s Supreme Court petition.

Trillanes and Gordon have a history of run-ins. Trillanes said Gordon’s blue ribbon committee has become a committee-de-absuwelto or a committee that let's erring government officials go scot-free

Gordon said the Senate’s committee on rules should clarify the question on jurisdiction.

According to the Senate’s latest calendar, the Calida issue will be a joint investigation of the Blue Ribbon and Civil Service committee. Gordon said that as such, Trillanes can still be part of the investigation.

“I would want to put that to sleep because it’s very clear, the Constitution provides you cannot have a conflict of interest in your actuations as a public official, and it’s prohibited by the anti graft law. As to whether he conducted the efforts to try and get profit from a business that he has using his position, that’s for us to find out,” Gordon said. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.