By Jefferson Antiporda, August 20 2018; Manila Times


Image Credit to The Philippine Star

THE Senate Blue Ribbon committee will push through with its investigation of supposed conflict of interest arising from security service contracts between several government agencies and the security firm owned by the family of Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee, said unless the Supreme Court issued a restraining order, the hearing, called for by Senate Resolution 760, would proceed.

“The SolGen is not exempted,” Gordon said in an interview over radio station dzBB.

Calida and his family last week asked the Supreme Court to stop the Senate from investigating P150 million in contracts obtained by their Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (Visai) with the government.

Senate Resolution 760, filed by members of the Senate minority bloc on May 30, noted that of the 14 government contracts bagged by Visai, nine came after Calida assumed the position of solicitor general.

“If there is a restraining order, I will respect, I will withhold. Although being a separate body we can do it, but out of respect [we will not do it],” Gordon said.

The Blue Ribbon committee, however, has not yet set the date of the hearing.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th on Friday pointed out that Calida does not have any immunity from legislative inquiry.

“Let me remind Mr. Calida that he is not a sacred cow. Thus, his petition for TRO (temporary restraining order) has no legal basis,” Trillanes said.

“Mark me, no matter where he hides, Mr. Calida’s corrupt practices will soon be exposed. Tuloy ang imbestigasyon (The investigation will proceed)!” he added.

Visai secured a contract with the Department of Justice, wherein the Office of the Solicitor General is an attached agency.

It bagged security services contracts from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., National Economic and Development Authority, National Anti-Poverty Commission, National Electrification Administration and National Parks Development Committee.

The minority bloc is composed of Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino, 4th Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima and Trillanes.