SolGen Calida to file cases vs. those 'maligning, slandering' him

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — Solicitor General Jose Calida is ready to face his detractors and will even file charges against them in court.

In an exclusive interview with CNN Philippines' The Source, he said he has plans against those "maligning me, slandering me, libeling me."

"I am a lawyer, and therefore I know what to do. I'm just waiting that the charges will be given to me so I can answer them point by point," said Calida.

"I can handle all attacks. The question is, can they handle my counter-attack?" he added.

When asked if he would file cases against them, Calida answered, "Yes, I will."

The country's top lawyer said the attacks against him were politically motivated.

Opposition senators Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros called for Calida's resignation in light of his family business' controversial ₱261 million worth of contracts with government agencies.

Calida said they were frustrated because his case against their perceived ally, former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, prospered at the Supreme Court. In a landmark decision, the high court unseated the Chief Justice after Calida argued her appointment was invalid.

"They're angry with me because I won the quo warranto case... Had I lost the case, they would not have attacked me like this," he said.

Calida has staunchly maintained he will hold on to his position as Solicitor General and to his stocks in the family-owned company, insisting there is no conflict of interest.

The Solicitor General also faces criminal and administrative charges at the Ombudsman filed by Jocelyn Marie Acosta, a private citizen. She accused him of spending ₱1.8 million of government funds on his 22-year old intern. He dismissed the case as "rumor-mongering."

"The one who viciously accused me at the Ombudsman admitted she has no proof and admitted she is rooting for Atty. Sereno. This is a political attack not only on me, but on the President also," he said.

He also said that Acosta "hated" him after he turned down a letter asking him to file a case against Associate Justice Teresita De Castro for allegedly being unable to file her statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth. The lack of SALNs was one of the arguments cited against Sereno.

"She did not offer any evidence. In fact, Justice De Castro filed the required number of SALNs — ten," said Calida. "When she was appointed as Associate Justice, there was no such requirement by the [Judicial and Bar Council]."

Despite outcry from the Duterte administration's critics, Calida still enjoys the support of Malacanang. President Rodrigo Duterte had maintained that he will not fire Calida.

The Solicitor General even joked, "I was inspired when the President said, 'Why should I fire him?' Because of that inspiration, maybe I'll consider some more quo warrantos to be filed."

Apart from Sereno, Calida has also led the government's defense of controversial decisions, such as the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos in Libingan ng mga Bayani and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Sereno has since filed a motion for reconsideration at the Supreme Court.

But with a possible opening in the Supreme Court soon, Calida says he is not interested.

"I'm not cut out to be a judge. I find the job boring," said Calida. "I won cases. I haven't lost a case in the (Supreme Court) where I personally argued."