Pangilinan: Calida must resign over family's P150-M gov't contracts

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition senator Francis Pangilinan on Monday, May 28, said Solicitor General Jose Calida should resign, following documents showing his family's security agency bagged P150.8 million in government contracts since he assumed office in 2016.

Calida's company, Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Incorporated, won 10 government contracts between August 2016 and January 2018, based on award notices accessed by Rappler.

Pangilinan compared Calida's case to that of former tourism secretary Wanda Teo, who quit after the government paid P60 million for ad placements on her brothers' television show.

"If [Teo] resigned because the [Department of Tourism] favored her Tulfo brothers' TV production company to the tune of P60 million worth of government contracts, then Solicitor General Jose Calida, the lawyer of the government, should resign as well for P150 million worth of government contracts... that went to the [company] belonging to his wife and children kasi nag-resign na daw siya (because he supposedly resigned already)," said Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP).

"Family TV production company. Family security agency. Same, same. Halos times 3 nga lang 'yung halaga nung kay Calida (But Calida's contracts are worth nearly 3 times more than in Teo's case)," he added.

Calida earlier denied any conflict of interest. He said he resigned as chairman and president of Vigilant before he became Solicitor General in July 2016. Records show that the firm only notified the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about it on July 14, 2016.

The notification said the Solicitor General's wife, Milagros Calida, was its new president and chairperson. Their son, lawyer Josef Calida, was its vice president and corporate secretary. Their daughter Michelle was its treasurer.

SEC documents, however, also show that Calida still owned 60% of shares in the company as of September 29, 2016.

This was at least two months after he took his oath as Solicitor General in July 2016.

Malacañang defended Calida on Monday, with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque saying it is not illegal for Calida to own Vigilant shares.

Roque also said a conflict of interest would only arise if Calida was the approving authority of the multimillion-peso contracts.

Two of these contracts, worth P12.4 million, were with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is an attached agency of the DOJ, which in turn prepares the budget of Calida's office. Vigilant bagged the contracts in 2017.

Roque claimed Calida's critics only want to get back at him for spearheading the petition that led to the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Aside from the DOJ, here are the other agencies that granted contracts to Calida's company:

– Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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