Second of three parts
Analysis by Raïssa Robles
Solicitor General Jose Calida has denied any conflict of interest in continuing to own and control Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc.
Even the spokesman of the Officer of the Solicitor General (OSG), Hector Calilung, issued a statement in his boss’ defense, saying:
“There is no conflict of interest. The contracts between Vigilant and the NPDC (National Parks Development Committee) did not require the approval of the OSG. Also, the OSG does not regulate, supervise or license security agencies like Vigilant.”
Calilung is right in saying that the contracts between Vigilant and National Parks did not require OSG approval, nor does OSG “regulate, supervise or license security agencies”.
However, Atty. Calilung and his boss, SolGen Calida, fail to inform the public of the OSG’s role in certain government contracts.
I believe there is very likely a continuing and direct conflict of interest insofar as six of the 14 government contracts signed by Vigilant are concerned. This includes the P10.4 million contract signed by Vigilant with the National Parks that the OSG spokesman mentioned as an example of “no conflict of interest”.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is a unique one in the government bureaucracy. It is not mentioned in the Constitution but it is powerful. A section in the Administrative Code (later amended by Republic Act No. 9417) listed the powers and mandate of the OSG headed by the SolGen.
The SolGen, in effect, acts like a special prosecutor for specific cases. His second mandate/function is what—I believe — very likely puts SolGen Calida in a direct and continuing conflict of interest situation.
Mandate No. 2 in Section 35 of Book II, Chapter 12 of the Administrative Code gives the OSG the power to:
“Investigate, initiate court action, or in any manner proceed against any person, corporation or firm for the enforcement of any contract, bond, guarantee, mortgage, pledge or other collateral executed in favor of the Government.”
You can read that section by going to this link—https://www.lawphil.net/executive/execord/eo1987/eo_292_1987.html
It is that power of the OSG to “Investigate, initiate court action, or in any manner proceed against any person, corporation or firm for the enforcement of any contract” that puts Calida in a continuing conflict of interest situation with regard to six of the 14 contracts that Vigilant signed after Calida became SolGen.
Every government contract signed by a private contractor like Calida’s company has a section at the end that spells out how conflicts between the contracting parties should be resolved.
Vigilant’s contract with National Parks (which I have posted in its entirety at the end of this piece) is an example. Its Article 10 states:
RESOLUTION OF CONFLICTS
10.a In the event of any conflict arising from the Security Service Contract between the COMMITTEE and the AGENCY, the parties shall endeavour to settle their conflicts amicably, failing which, the same shall be submitted to arbitration and/or to a court of competent jurisdiction.
Who do you think would be the National Parks lawyer if amicable settlement fails?
The OSG is the standby lawyer in all government contracts, provided these are not issued by government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).
A separate law (Republic Act 3838) assigned the Government Corporate Counsel to be the standby lawyer for GOCC contracts. (Also at the end of this piece is a list of GOCCs).
Of the 14 contracts that Vigilant signed, five are with the state gambling regulator Pagcor — which is a GOCC. The five contracts are worth a combined P97 million. A P5.97 million contract is with another GOCC – the National Electrification Administration.
Calida’s security guard business also clinched a P53.7 million contract with the Lower House but this body is not under the Executive Branch so it doesn’t count as a conflict of interest case. Besides, the Lower House has enough lawyers to defend it.
However — and we come to the heart of the matter — Vigilant signed six contracts worth a total of P61,798,638.83 with the following government agencies that are not GOCCs. and therefore the standby lawyer for these contracts is the OSG:
National Economic Development Authority – ₱6,876,737.76
National Anti-Poverty Commission – ₱2,870,194.32
Department of Justice – ₱5,678,353.68
National Parks Development Committee – ₱10,369,819.68
Department of Justice – ₱6,758,862.77
National Parks Development Committee – ₱29,244,670.62
This is why I believe Article 10 – and similar sections in Vigilant’s six government contracts — very likely puts the Office of the Solicitor General (whose head IS Calida) always on standby, just in case relations sour between the two contracting parties and this results in a lawsuit.
Because Calida – whether he likes it or not – IS the CHIEF government lawyer for non-GOCC state agencies that signed contracts with Vigilant.
THAT is what very likely places Calida, due to being the SolGen, in a direct and continuing conflict of interest situation.
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Previously, I wrote that Calida’s security guard business prospers mightily under Duterte, compared to 10 years before:
The third and final part of this series will be entitled – Psssst, SolGen Calida, you seem to have committed a serious violation you charged CJ Sereno with
Meanwhile, below is Vigilant’s contract with National Parks Development Committee which has a clause (Section 10) on page 8 that very likely puts SolGen Calida in a direct and continuing conflict of interest.