MANILA, Philippines – Solicitor General Jose Calida evaded media on Monday, May 28, and refused to answer questions on P150.8 million worth of government contracts awarded to his family's security firm.
Calida went to the Senate and met with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on the same day the chamber was set to take up a resolution urging the Supreme Court to review its decision to oust Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Calida was the one who initiated the quo warranto petition that majority of the magistrates favored.
Reporters went to Sotto's office upon learning that Calida was there. The Solicitor General's staff, as well as assistant solicitors general, were there, but Calida himself stayed inside a small adjacent room.
While some reporters went on to interview Sotto, Calida took the chance to get out of the small room, Rappler and a few other reporters followed the Solicitor General.
Asked to comment on calls for his resignation, Calida said his lawyer would be the one to comment on the issue.
Pressed why he has said there was no conflict of interest in his family’s bagging of multi-million government contracts while he is in office, he said: “Because there is none.”
When we pointed out that Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Incorporate got contracts with the Department of Justice, which prepares his office's budget, Calida again invoked his lawyer and went inside the nearby office of Senator Panfilo Lacson.
When he came out of Lacson’s office, a visibly irked Calida walked past reporters, pushing cameramen, tripods, and even barriers, as he tried to evade questions.
Asked why he was in the Senate, he said: “It’s none of your business.”
Calida said he would defend himself in the proper forum.
Vigilant, where Calida still holds 60% of the shares, won 10 government contracts between August 2016 and January 2018. Two of these contracts, worth P12.4 million, were with the DOJ. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com