OP-ED EDITORIAL: Opinion – ‘Vigilance’

Increasingly, though, he is also getting to be known as the government lawyer who did not know what conflict of interest meant even if it hit him on the head.

A worse, more dangerous possibility is that he knew what it was and disregarded it anyway, believing it did not apply to him.

We will not get into the details of Mr. Calida’s personal entanglements—these are matters best discussed and resolved in the family circle. We’d like to dwell on, however, the things he did and did not do as the government’s top lawyer.

Reports have surfaced that he remains a majority stockholder—60 percent—of a security agency named Vigilant. He has not denied this. His wife and three sons each own a share of 10 percent. Calida says it is enough that he has resigned as chairman and president of the company in 2016. His office is not in any way involved in the approval of the contracts, and hence it does not interfere with the performance of his duties.

Vigilant has been found to have engaged in deals with several government agencies—the National Economic and Development Authority, the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the National Parks Development Corporation.

Beyond the complaint it was also discovered that Vigilant secured contracts with the Department of Justice, the House of Representatives and the National Electrification Authority.

Most recently, the Commission on Audit discovered that Calida had been paid P7.46 million in excess allowances, but he has argued that allowances even exceeding 50 percent of salaries are allowed by law. On this one, he is on the same boat as his predecessors, Florin Hilbay and Francis Jardeleza.

A Senate investigation appears to be in the works even as the President himself has come to Calida’s defense. “Why should I fire him? He’s good,” Mr. Duterte said. Palace Spokesman Harry Roque said Calida’s accusers are just bitter about his role in Sereno’s ouster.

These have emboldened Calida to say he will not divest his shares in Vigilant and he will not resign.

Investigations will establish whether or not Calida indeed violated laws on procurement, on ethics, and on the engagement of certain officials in a business or profession. These should proceed, not because he was instrumental in the ouster of Sereno, but because as the top lawyer for the government he must be the first to avoid impropriety—or even the appearance of such.

Whether or not Calida is good at his job, as the President maintains, should also not matter, because there are plenty of competent individuals that can take on the job without raising doubts on the administration’s will to stamp out corruption in government. / June 03, 2018 at 12:30 am by  Manila Standard.

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Chua Mui Hoong- Opinion Editor
She has been with the paper since 1991 and covered every election in Singapore since then, except the 2001 General Election when she was in the United States doing her Master’s in Public Administration at Harvard University. In her salad days, she was an English literature graduate from Cambridge University. She blogs regularly on notable issues and commentaries and writes a monthly column in the Sunday Times.


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  All photographs, news, editorials, opinions, information, data, others have been taken from the Internet ..aseanews.net | [email protected] |.For comments, Email to :D’Equalizer | [email protected] | Contributor.
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