Calida claims attacks against him due to quo warranto victory

MANILA Solicitor General Jose Calida on Thursday slammed the graft and corruption complaint filed against him, as well as recent attacks against his family's security agency for bagging PHP150 million in contracts from several government agencies.

Calida, in a television interview, said he is now under attack for winning his quo warranto petition that led to the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice last May 11.

He was referring to the complaint filed by retired businesswoman Jocelyn Marie Acosta-Nisperos before the Office of the Ombudsman, alleging that Calida is guilty of malversation for having an illicit relationship with an intern at the Office of the Solicitor General and diverting public funds to her.

Calida said the complainant did not attach any evidence to support her claim, which he described as a vicious, malicious concoction.

They are fabricating charges against me. They want to destroy my family. That's (a) big, fat lie. This woman admits she has no evidence. What she's saying is actually a concoction a vicious, malicious concoction," he said. "They want to destroy my family and I will not forgive them for that. There will be a day of reckoning."

Calida revealed that he plans to take legal action against those who are maligning me, slandering me, libeling me."

After getting support from President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Calida also rejected the calls for his resignation.

"No. Why should I (resign)? I've been a lawyer since 1974. I can handle all the attacks. The question is, can they handle my counter-attack?" he said in the TV interview.

Calida said there is also no need for him to discuss the matter with the President.

"My conscience is clear and there's no reason why I should bother the President with this problem," he explained.

He blamed the calls for his resignation and attacks against him on some quarters, who are not pleased with his successive victories in cases before the Supreme Court - the latest of which was the quo warranto case against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

"They're angry with me because I won the quo warranto case. Had I lost the case, they would not have attacked me like this," he claimed.

Apart from the quo warranto case, the Solicitor General has consistently won big cases for the administration in the High Court the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, drug cases against Senator Leila de Lima, and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Calida also said he sees no reason to heed the call of opposition Senators Francis Pangilinan, de Lima and Risa Hontiveros for his resignation.

"I was wondering why the good senator Kiko Pangilinan is asking for my resignation. Did I commit graft? No, I did not. I understand where he's coming from. He's the president of the Liberal Party," he pointed out.

Calida reiterated that he did not violate Republic Act (RA) No. 6713 (Code of the Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials) with the contracts of his Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency, Inc. (VISAI) with at least 10 government agencies, among them the Department of Justice (DOJ), National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

He explained that he has complied with the law after resigning from his post as president of VISAI before assuming his post in the government instead of divesting his 60-percent share in the firm.

"Under the law, I have choice to either resign from my post or divest my shares," he explained, citing Section 9 of RA 6713.

He said the law only prohibits a government official from owning or having shares in a private firm with any transaction that requires the approval of his government office or a company that is regulated or licensed by the same office.

The top government counsel, however, said he welcomes the plan of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to look into his security firm's contract with the DOJ to determine if any law has been violated despite the presumption of regularity.

"I agree with what Secretary Guevarra said that there is a Procurement Law that must be followed. They have the right to check the contract. I have no problem with that," he noted.

Calida also confirmed that he has not divested his shares in VISAI although his wife has already assumed the post as president of the firm.

"If there will be actual conflict, then I will divest. We cannot anticipate what lies in the future. You are required to divest if there is actual conflict of interest," he added.

Sought for comment, lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, one of Sereno's spokespersons, said Calida's statement is unfair.

Hindi ka naman pwedeng atakehin kung walang basis yung atake sa'yo (They cannot attack you without any basis). Let's not put those ill motives dun sa mga nagtatanggol lang sa katotohanan (on those who are just defending the truth), Lacanilao said in a press conference in Manila.

Lacanilao said Calida's argument is ad hominem or a fallacy. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency