SC admits Calida plea vs Trillanes

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Beleaguered Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s effort to get back at Solicitor General Jose Calida, his perceived tormentor in the revival of multiple cases against him, through a Senate inquiry has been stalled after the Supreme Court (SC) en banc, in a resolution, resolved to “give due course” to Calida’s petition to stop the probe.

In going to the SC, Calida urged the court to declare void and restrain the letters sent by Trillanes which informed his family of the scheduled investigation for allegedly lacking a legislative purpose.

Trillanes is facing cases of rebellion and coup d’etat before two separate Makati courts after President Duterte issued Proclamation 572 last 4 September that invalidated the former rebel’s amnesty.

The SC gave Calida and Trillanes, in connection with the Calida family’s petition to stop the Senate from investigating their security agency’s multimillion-peso contracts with government agencies, 30 days to file their memoranda.

In August, the Calida family went to the High court to contest Trillanes’ intended legislative inquiry into the deals of Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency Inc. (Vigilant) with government offices.

It argued that Trillanes wanted to dig up evidence on their alleged offenses and humiliate them in the guise of an invocation of legislative power.

No Senate resolution

Calida, wife Milagros and children Josef, Michelle and Mark Jorel accused Trillanes of grave abuse of discretion in setting a public hearing and summoning them over the issue “in the absence of a resolution by the Senate or any of its committees approving the proposed resolution directing the conduct of an inquiry in aid of legislation.”

Trillanes’ committee on civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation is behind the inquiry into the business interests of the Calida family.

Calida questioned Trillanes’ jurisdiction to investigate specific conflicts of interests of certain individual government officials, as he pointed out that the Blue Ribbon Committee has jurisdiction since the latter focuses on legislation needed to address accountability issues involving public officers “and not on actual or possible violations done by specific performance.”

Mere proposal

Calida also maintained Trillanes’ resolution was a “mere proposed resolution” and is not intended to aid legislation.

“(Trillanes) decided on his own to conduct an inquiry inviting petitioners (Calida family), as witnesses, on Proposed Resolution 760. While petitioners recognize the Senate committees are authorized in general to conduct inquiries, petitioners assert respondent has legal authority to order the conduct of the legislative inquiry on his own,” Calida said.

“(T)he committee mainly consists of matters relating to rules and policies of civil service and the status of officers and employees of government as these apply or are applicable to all employees,” he added.

Opposition senators signed the call for a Senate inquiry and the resolution has been transferred to the Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon.

As chairman and major shareholder of the security agency, Calida was accused of conflict of interest when it was revealed that the firm had bagged security service contracts with state agencies, including the Department of Justice.

But Calida argued the Office of the Solicitor General is not involved in the approval of contracts between Vigilant and its clients and contracts were legally obtained, he said.

He told the SC the planned Senate investigation is void claiming the investigation’s purpose is to prosecute an alleged conflict of interest that does not meet the test set by jurisprudence.

Requirements cited

The memorandum of each party, according to the SC, should contain the statement of the case, which is a clear and concise statement of the nature of the action, a summary of the proceedings, the challenged decision, resolution or order of the court, the nature of the judgment and other matters necessary to an understanding of the controversy.

A statement of the facts should also be in the memoranda which according to the SC should be a clear and concise statement in the narrative form of the established facts, statement of issues, argument, relief and table of authorities which is a list of statutes, cases, executive issuances, rules and regulations, and books or articles cited with references to the pages in the memorandum where they are cited.

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