Sereno supporter accuses Calida of having conflict of interest

(Eagle News) — A supporter of Maria Lourdes Sereno is accusing Solicitor General Jose Calida of having a “conflict of interest” over what she said was his and his family’s stake in a company that provides security services to  four government agencies.

The accusations of Jocelyn Acosta were contained in a letter to the Solicitor General, who was the same person who filed the quo warranto petition that resulted in a Supreme Court decision that nullified Sereno’s appointment as Chief Justice.

According to Acosta, based on the General Information Sheet filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 29, 2016, Calida owned 60 percent of the capital stock of Vigilant Investigative and Security Agency, Inc, while the rest was owned by other members of his family.

She said VISAI provides security services to the National Economic Development Authority, the National Anti-Poverty Commission,  the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the National Parks Development Corporation.

While she said she has already asked the Ombudsman to  investigate Calida for possible violation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, “being the architect of the quo warranto petition, you now have the burden of showing to the people that you have more integrity than the Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.”

As such, she said that Calida, pursuant to the Freedom of Information People’s Manual which he himself signed as Solicitor General, should produce his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth from the years 2016 and 2017 “so the people may see that you have accurately declared your family’s ownership of VISAI, among other assets.”

“You claimed that the Chief Justice lacked integrity because she did not file some of her SALNs for the years she was teaching in the University of the Philippines (UP). However, UP never said that she did not file her SALNs; UP simply did not have those SALNs in their files,” Acosta said.

She reiterated that Calida also made an admission in his reply to Sereno’s comment that the missing SALNs have been retrieved and submitted to the Supreme Court.

“Despite such admission, you still did not withdraw the petition for quo warranto even while the factual basis for it no longer exists,” she said.

Earlier, Acosta also asked Calida to file a quo warranto petition against SC Associate Justice Teresita de Castro because of her alleged failure to file all the required SALNs by the Judicial and Bar Council, but he declined the request.

“Justice De Castro, who is subject of your request, was appointed to the Supreme Court on Dec. 4, 2007. The argument which the OSG propounded against Sereno does not apply to Justice De Castro since it was Sereno who was appointed as the chief justice without the qualifications back in 2012,” he had said.

In nullifying Sereno’s appointment as Chief Justice with a vote of 8-6,  the Supreme Court dismissed Sereno’s argument impeachable officials like her could only be removed via impeachment.

Citing cases, the SC ruled impeachment was political in nature, and quo warranto was judicial in nature.

As such, it said both could proceed “independently and simultaneously.”