No conflict of interest in Calida’s contracts with gov’t: Palace

Malacañang on Monday said that it does not see any conflict of interest in Solicitor General Jose Calida’s family-owned security company having PHP150 million worth of contracts with government agencies noting that his political enemies were only trying to get back at him.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Calida’s enemies are getting back at him for winning his quo warranto petition which led to the ouster of Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice last May 11.

“Alam niyo naman kung bakit lumalabas yung mga pula na yan kay SolGen Calida. Nanalo kasi siya doon quo warranto petition niya. Binabawian siya ng mga kalaban niya. Yung mga nasaktan doon sa ruling na quo warranto (You know why these criticisms against SolGen Calida are coming out. It’s because he won his quo warranto petition. His enemies are trying to get back at him. Those who were affected by the ruling),” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, in a Facebook post, earlier called for Calida’s resignation saying that his contracts with government agencies were no different from the case of resigned Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo who was questioned by the Commission on Audit (COA) after her agency paid PHP60 million to place advertisements on the show of her brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo in state-run PTV-4.

Roque disagreed and explained that there was “a world of a difference” between the contracts signed by Teo and Calida noting that the former involved a contract approved by her agency while the latter did not.

“He (Calida) has not entered into any contract with his own office, the Office of the Solicitor General. So (I) think there’s a world of a difference between the Wanda Teo transaction and Solicitor Calida,” Roque said.

He, however, noted that he could be wrong and will leave it to the courts to decide on Calida’s case.

“It has to be interest in any contract requiring the approval of their office. Basta hindi siya mangontrata sa (As long as he has no contracts at the) Office of the Solicitor General,” Roque said.

“If it’s not in his office, I don’t see the conflict of interest but I could be wrong. I’m sure this matter will be pronounced upon by our courts,” he added.

According to Roque, his interpretation of Section 13 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution did not prohibit Calida from owning stocks in his family’s security company.

“I have the Constitutional provision here and the prohibition is ‘Cabinet members shall not during their tenure directly or indirectly practice any other profession, participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract with, or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries,’” Roque said.

“Stock ownership, obviously, is not covered. I think mere stock ownership is not prohibited for as long as you declare it in your SALN (statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth),” he added.

Roque pointed out that Calida has acknowledged that he has stock ownership but he’s not exercising any management powers in the company. However, the shares of which are still owned by his family.

Moreover, Roque said Calida has resigned from all of his corporate posts before he became Solicitor General. PNA