Thursday 16 August, 2018
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QC court stops suspension of Olongapo mayor, 15 others

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The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has issued a status quo order stopping the implementation of the Ombudsman’s six-month suspension of Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino and 15 other local officials.

In a recent order, Branch 83 Judge Ralph Lee ordered that the status quo be sustained for now, as he directed the sanctioned city officials, the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to submit their memoranda within 15 days.

The status quo order directed the parties to refrain from taking any action that would render the issue moot and academic.

After the lapse of the deadline, Lee would then decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to suspend the enforcement of the Ombudsman order while the case is pending.

The status quo order arose from the petition filed by Paulino and the other sanctioned officials:Vice Mayor Aquilino Cortez, Jr.; Councilors Noel Atienza, Linus Bacay, Benjamin Cajudo II, Edna Elane, Eduardo Guerrero, Alreuela Bundang-Ortiz; former councilor Ellen Dabu; Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president Randy Sionzon; Indigenous Peoples (IP) representative Egmedio Gonzales Jr., city administrator Mamerto Malabute; city planning chief Tony-Kar Balde; city accountant Cristiflor Buduhan; city legal head Ana Florentino Sison; and city budget chief Joy Fernandez Cahilig.

The Ombudsman had found the said officials guilty of the administrative offense of simple misconduct for allegedly failing to follow the rules on the conduct of Swiss challenges in connection with the lease of the Olongapo City Civil Center complex.

The city officials allegedly failed to wait for the lapse of the period of 60 working days from the publication of the bid invitation.

Although the invitation was only published on October 20, 2014, the special bids and awards committee recommended the award of the lease deal to SM Prime Holdings, Inc., only 10 days later on October 30, 2014.

Paulino issued the notice of award the very next day, while the city council confirmed the mayor’s move in a November 12, 2014 resolution.

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