Calida firm also bagged contract for House of Representatives – opposition

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Opposition lawmakers said on Monday, May 28, that the security agency of Solicitor Jose Calida also has a contract with the House of Representatives, in addition to the 10 it bagged from different government agencies. 

A sourced photo taken on Monday showed a security guard at the South Wing of the Batasan building wearing a patch of Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Incorporated on his uniform.

VIGILANT. A security guard at the House of Representatives wears a patch of the security firm Vigilant, owned by Solicitor General Jose Calida and his family. Sourced photo

VIGILANT. A security guard at the House of Representatives wears a patch of the security firm Vigilant, owned by Solicitor General Jose Calida and his family.

Sourced photo

Vigilant is Calida’s family-owned security company. While he resigned as chairman and president in June 2016, he still owns 60% of company shares, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) papers as of September 2016. The remaining 40% is evenly shared among his wife Milagros and their three children.

The contract with the lower house is not included in 10 contracts worth P150.815 million that Calida’s Vigilant bagged since he was appointed Solicitor General by President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2016. The House contract would bring to 7 the number of government agencies that awarded security projects to Vigilant.

The 10 contracts that Rappler ealier reported are those publicly available on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (Philgeps), and the website of the National Anti-Poverty Commission or NAPC.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin claimed in a statement to media on Monday that Calida has a contract with the House of Representatives. 

Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano said on Twitter that Vigilant came in at the start of the 17th Congress in July 2016. 

“Dito sa House of Rep ay Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency din. The long time sec agency was kicked out at the start of 17th Congress. Lakas mo pre!” Alejano said.

(Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency is also here at the House of Representatives. The longtime security agency was kicked out at the start of the 17th Congress. You must really be influential!)

“It is clear as day that conflict of interest is manifest as Solgen Calida has clear financial interests in a government contract awarded to his family corporation worth at least P150.815-M as reported, including a contract with the House of Representatives,” Villarin said.

Calida refused to answer questions from reporters on Monday when he visited the Senate. “There’s none (conflict of interest), my lawyer will answer that,” he said.

Vigilant’s contracts include two from the Department of Justice, awarded in 2017. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is an attached agency to the DOJ when it comes to budget. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who took on the helm of the DOJ in May 2018, told Rappler he would “check what happened before.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he saw no conflict of interest if the assets are properly declared by an official. Calida earlier said his resignation as chairman and president of the company made  Vigilant's contracts lawful.

Villarin disagreed, saying: "Another family close to the President dipping into the government's coffers. This is becoming a common refrain in the Duterte Cabinet after the Teo-Tulfo scandal. SolGen Calida should be investigated and appropriate charges filed for graft.”

Senator Francis Pangilinan has called on Calida to resign. 

A complaint against Calida  over Vigilant’s government contracts has been filed by a private citizen with the Office of the Ombudsman.  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.

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