Calida petition vs. Senate probe moves forward in SC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) — Solicitor General Jose Calida's bid to stop the Senate from probing the government deals bagged by his family's security agency has moved forward in the Supreme Court (SC), which gave his petition due course.

READ: CNN Philippines' exclusive interview with SolGen Calida

In a resolution dated October 9, but released to media only on Thursday, the SC en banc resolved to give due course to Calida's petition and ordered the Solicitor General and his family, and Senate civil service committee chair Antonio Trillanes IV to submit their respective memoranda within 30 days.

The Court added that it "may consider the Memorandum alone in deciding or resolving the petition," which may mean that oral arguments may not be necessary for the en banc to decide on the matter.

 

In August, Calida and members of his family -- Milagros O. Calida, Josef Calida, Michelle Calida and Mark Jorel Calida -- filed a petition before the SC against Trillanes for allegedly committing "grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction" for inviting them to a Senate inquiry on the government contracts of their security firm, Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (VISAI).

Calida still owns a majority share of Vigilant, which bagged contracts with government agencies like the National Economic and Development Authority, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, and National Parks Development Committee.

Government officials are required to "avoid conflict of interest at all times" and are mandated to resign from any position in private businesses within 30 days after assuming office or divest shareholdings or interest within 60 days after assuming office, according to the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

The Calidas asked for a temporary restraining order and/or a permanent injunction against Trillanes to prevent him from conducting an inquiry "without legal authority from the Senate and the law."

Senate investigations are carried out in aid of legislation. The probe on the Calidas' security firm stems from Senate Resolution No. 760 filed by minority senators in May.

The investigation led by Trillanes into Vigilant pushed through on September 4, after being cancelled on the same day the Solicitor General filed his petition before the SC. The senator's 2011 amnesty was revoked on the same day he began the probe.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.