It is always the Senate minority bloc that calls for the resignations of the Duterte appointed officials, despite the fact that there is hardly any proof these type senators can provide to justify their calls for the officials’ resignation.
Chief among these senators in the opposition are Risa Hontiveros, the detained Leila de Lima and of course, never to forget Antonio Trillanes and Liberal Party Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
They did this to former Justice chief Vitaliano Aguirre and now to Solicitor-General Jose Calida, although this time, it looks like Calida will be a hard nut to crack under calls for him to resign.
As Calida put it earlier, he will answer all questions before the proper court.
President Rodrigo Duterte defended Calida, saying in a speech to officials of the Bureau of Customs on Wednesday that he saw no reason to fire the solicitor general, as he had no participation in the operation of Visai and had already “retired” from the company.
“Don’t insist that because he is already retired, he should no longer engage in business,” President Duterte said, adding that “if it’s legal, why not?”
But as it is usual for these opposition senators, they make sure that they will abuse their power to demand an inquiry on the official they want fired through these panel hearings that are being used mostly to grandstand, and more importantly, they ensure that the resource person and witnesses are portrayed as guilty despite there being no evidence. That’s abuse of legislative power.
What they want to do is to generate the public perception that these officials, whom they consider their foes, are indeed guilty. Right now their foe is Calida because of Lourdes Sereno’s ouster.
Calida rejected allegations of graft and corruption, saying those who had brought up the issue just want to get back at him him for bringing the quo warranto petition in the Supreme Court that led to the removal of Chief Justice Sereno.
But there also went Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, portraying himself as a legal and constitutional expert, insisting that resignation from the company was not enough, stressing that Calida should have divested himself of his interest in and not allowed Visai to go after government contracts, as it remained owned by him and his family.
But that’s not what the law says, and Lagman knows it but comes up with these legal boners.
Not far behind in the opposition’s portrayal of being legal and constitutional expert is Sen. Risa Hontiveros who pitched in, insisting that Calida’s admission that he still owned Visai “already pointed to his guilt.
“By saying that he has not divested himself of his majority shares in the a family business that has snared millions of pesos worth of government contracts, Mr. Calida has virtually admitted to allegations of corrupt practices and conflict of interest. Case closed. Game over,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
I think at this time, it’s more if a resign game over for Hontiveros.
There she went, as if an expert, saying that Calida violated Article VII, Section 13 of the Constitution, which prohibits high government officials from being involved in businesses that have financial dealings with the government.
She said Calida also violated the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials with his “conflict of interest” and the graft law by allowing his family-owned business to have financial dealings with the government.
She ain’t the judge or the jury, that’s for sure. If she had to run in the 2019 polls, she wouldn’t make it to her Senate seat.
But she is backed up by her fellow yellow senators, such as Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Bam Aquino, Pangilinan, Trillanes and de Lima as they filed a resolution urging the committee on civil service and government reorganization to open an inquiry into Calida’s alleged conflict of interest.
Pangilinan took the earlier lead when his chance came during the confirmation hearing, pushing the now confirmed Menardo Guevarra to probe SolGen Calida on the conflict of interest issue.
Hours earlier, Guevarra already announced that Calida’s case has the presumption of regularity and that in the face of it, there does not seem to be a question of conflict of interest.
Natrually, facing the senators and knowing they have to approve of his appointment as DoJ chief, Guevarra quickly agreed to investigate the issue.
Guevarra then agreed that he would look into questions of validity raised about the DoJ’s contracts with Visai, two of the contracts worth at least P150 million that the company bagged after Calida was appointed solicitor general in 2016.
But that was not enough for the opposition as the yellows and the yellow stained allies now insist on investigating the conflict of interest issue.
No doubt they will zero in on Calida and summon him to the Senate to answer their questions which would just be to make Calida look guilty, despite the law and Constitution make it clear that no violation occurred in Calida’s case and worse, this would not be in any way, in aid of legislation.