No conflict of interest in family firm contracts with gov’t agencies – Calida
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday maintained that there was no conflict of interest on his part when a security firm owned by his family entered into contracts with government agencies.
Calida said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) was not the approving authority in contracts in question.
Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency, Inc. reportedly bagged P150 million in contracts with the National Parks Development Committee, the National Economic and Development Authority, and the Department of Justice.
“The Office of the Solicitor General, as a government agency, is not involved in the approval of the contracts between Vigilant and its clients,” Calida said in a statement. “It is not the mandate of the OSG to regulate, supervise or grant licenses to security agencies such as Vigilant.”
Calida said he had complied with the the law when he resigned from Vigilant security firm “even before he assumed office as solicitor general.”
According to the the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials (Republic Act No. 6713), public officials or employees must resign from their position in any private business or divest themselves of their shareholdings or interest.
“The General Information Sheet of Vigilant, as submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, bears out this fact – the contact details posted on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System are outdated,” Calida said.
Citing Rabe vs Flores, he explained that divestment of interest from the security firm was unnecessary.
“That he has not yet divested his interest in said enterprise is of no moment since the requirement of the law is either to resign from the management of the enterprise and/or divest himself of his interest in it,” Calida said.
He also maintained that the OSG was independent and not under the Department of Justice, one of the government agencies that tapped Vigiliant’s services.
He said that it would be misleading to say that Vigilant earned P150 million from its transaction with the government, adding that the contracts were obtained through proper bidding.
“Vigilant earns only a small fraction of the contract price as the bulk goes to the salaries and benefits of the guards deployed, the mandatory contributions due to the government [Social Security System, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig], and cost of administration,” he said. /atm
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