Gov. Hilario Davide III has terminated the Provincial Government’s “temporary engagement” of the security services of Black Pearl Security Agency. The reason for the move, though, is different from the one that made Black Pearl’s “engagement” controversial.

Black Pearl started securing the Capitol building and other province-owned properties and facilities last June 1, taking over from Tactical Security Agency Inc. whose contract expired on that day. Tactical got the contract during former governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s term.

Davide said he received reports that one on-duty Black Pearl guard was caught sleeping while another one was found to have no license to work as security guard. Earlier, another Black Pearl guard accidentally fired his service shotgun and hit a habal-habal driver.

While those incidents are few, these could be an indication that Black Pearl might not have been prepared for the takeover. Observers earlier noted that some Black Pearl guards didn’t have firearms.

But that wasn’t what made Capitol’s “temporary engagement” of Black Pearl, which had won the bidding, controversial. Rather, it was the fact that Black Pearl’s services were “engaged” even before a contract could be signed and post-qualification assessment could be made.

So the use of the reports about Black Pearl’s erring guards can be considered a way out for Davide. With the termination of Black Pearl’s services effective today, the Provincial Government will no longer endure the sight of its facilities being secured by people whose employer has still to get a contract.

But the move also presented another problem, which is about payment. Davide described the engagement of Black Pearl’s services as “voluntary,” so his inclination is not to pay the agency for the services rendered. But Black Pearl may have a different view of the matter.

For one, how “voluntary” was Black Pearl’s takeover? Would Black Pearl have started deploying its personnel had not somebody from the Capitol “ordered” or “told” it to do so? Did Black Pearl make it clear to the Provincial Government that its act was voluntary?

This episode in Davide’s governance should teach him one lesson: that getting out of the muck can be as messy as jumping into it.