Duterte’s firing spree spares Calida while others have been let go

June 1, 2018 - 3:57 PM
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In this February 2018 photo, Solicitor General Jose Calida files a manifestation related to the criminal charges filed against former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, former police chief Alan Purisima and former police Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas over the botched operation in 2015 that led to the deaths of 44 elite cops. (STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

Solicitor General Jose Calida is the latest public official being called to resign over controversial family business deals of his security agency with several government offices.

Many criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for standing by Calida while other officials have been fired over questionable deals.

“Calida, his security firm has been around for a long time. Why should I fire him? He is good, he is also from Davao but he is an Ilocano,” the chief executive said.

Human rights advocate Carlos Conde suggested that Calida, being the president’s “most valuable hitman,” makes him indispensable for Duterte.

“He fires officials for foreign travels but won’t touch one whose conflict of interest is so in your face. But Calida is Duterte’s most valuable hitman so what do we expect? Duterte on Calida: Why should I fire him?” Conde’s post read.

Meanwhile, some observed that Duterte may have a preference for officials from Davao, such as Calida.

Recently dismissed officials

The president has removed people from office as part of fulfilling his promise of a clean government.

The most recent dismissed official is former Customs Deputy Commissioner Noel Patrick Sales Prudente for supposed excessive personal travels out of the country.

Prudente, who had only served his post for three months, was abroad when the announcement came.

On May 8, former Tourism chief Wanda Teo handed her resignation after a personal talk with the chief executive. Similar to Calida’s case, Teo was caught in a contentious business deal worth P60 million that the Department of Tourism entered with a television program run by her brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo.

On April 18, former Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say reportedly submitted his resignation following the issue on contractualization of workers.

Amid being strong allies once, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre reportedly lost Duterte’s trust for putting the Department of Justice in a bad light after mishandling highly controversial cases. Aguirre resigned on April 4.

Conflict of interest

Calida is being flagged for possible violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Ethical Standards for Public Offices and Employees and the Revised Penal Code.

In the 13-page complaint, Jocelyn Acosta-Nisperos stated that the solicitor general’s ownership of Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. with his family presents a conflict of interest.

Recent reports stated that VISAI has contracts worth P260 million with several government offices.

Based on the Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, conflict of interest occurs “when a public official or employee is a member of a board, an officer, or a substantial stockholder of a private corporation or owner.”

In his defense, Calida argued that he had already left his post in VISAI when he was appointed by the president.