Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday upheld the validity of the security services contracts between the Department of Justice and an agency owned by Solicitor General Jose Calida and his family.
“We looked into our records and the conclusion is still the same,” Guevarra said, in an interview.
“I examined all the records pertaining to the procurement and all of these were regular on their face because this is a public bidding and all that we need to comply with are the pertinent regulations under the Government Procurement Reform Act,” the Justice Secretary added.
The DoJ chief made the disclosure after reviewing the DOJ’s contract with the Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency, Inc. following the allegation of conflict of interest against Calida over the family firm’s securing multi-million-peso deals with several government offices.
According to Guevarra, he found no conflict of interest on the part of the DOJ, because he said the conflict would only be present if the winning bidder was related within the third degree of affinity or consanguinity to the head of the implementing agency, the head of the Bid and Awards Committee, and its secretariat and “none was found.”
“But the conflict of interest on the part of the SolGen—that is something that he has to deal with separately,” Guevarra explained, noting that a complaint against Calida has already been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman over the issue.
Nonetheless, Guevarra assured that in case of violations or shortcomings on the part of the agency’s services, the DoJ could simply terminate the deal.
“All we need to do is to cancel the contract. We don’t even have to go to court. If we have any problem with the performance of the company’s obligations under the contract, all we need to do is really to cancel the contract,” he explained.
While Calida resigned from the chairmanship of the company, he still owned 60 percent of VISAI shares as of 2016, when he was appointed as solicitor general.
He has admitted not divesting himself of his interest in the firm, saying that by law, he was required to choose to either resign or let go of his ownership.