Calida denies conflict of interest in family's deals with gov't

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Solicitor General Jose Calida said he complied with the law when he resigned as president and chair of his family-owned security agency before assuming his post.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — The government's top lawyer denied involvement in his family business obtaining over ₱39 million worth of contracts in government.

Solicitor General Jose Calida in a statement on Saturday claimed he had resigned as President and Chairman of his family-owned security agency, Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (Vigilant), prior to assuming office.

He referred to documents that surfaced revealing signed deals between Vigilant and the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) on January 31, 2018 for the maintenance of Paco Park and Rizal Park in Manila.

Calida said he complied with rules under Republic Act (RA) 6713, which states that a public official should "resign from his position in any private business enterprise within 30 days from his assumption of office."

"There is no conflict of interest. The contracts between Vigilant and the NPDC did not require the approval of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). Also the OSG does not regulate, supervise or license security agencies like Vigilant," the statement said.

The contracts were signed by Calida's wife, incumbent Vigilant president and chair Milagros Calida. The first contract, worth ₱10 million was signed in 2017. While the second contract in 2018 was worth ₱29 million.

The agreements state that Vigilant will have the following responsibilities:

Maintaining peace and order in Rizal Park and Paco Park in Manila;

Protecting facilities and installations of the NPDC against robbery, arson etc;

Protecting park visitors;

Protecting employees of NPDC

The documents surfaced after a private citizen filed a graft complaint against the SolGen, which supposedly showed his ownership of 60 percent of Vigilant's capital stock.

The citizen said Calida's involvement in the company was "a clear conflict of interest."

Calida, however, denied this, as shown in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth when he assumed office.

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He added all government contracts were the result of public bidding "in which Vigilant submitted the lowest responsive bid in accordance with the Procurement Act (RA 8184)."