By Jonas Reyes
OLONGAPO CITY – Sixteen local government officials, including Mayor Rolen Paulino, were given six-month suspensions after being filed for “Simple Misconduct” by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
The Office of the Ombudsman has found that Paulino, Vice Mayor Aquilino Cortez Jr., Councilors Elena Dabu, Benjamin Cajudo II, Edgardo Guerrero, Noel Atienza, Alruela Bundang-Ortiz, Edna Elane, Emerito Linus Bacay, Randy Sionzon, Egmidio Gonzales Jr., Tony Kar Balde III, Cristiflor Buduhan, Ana Marin Sison, City Administrator Mamerto Malabute, and Joy Cahilig are administratively liable for Simple Misconduct.
The order also states that they are given the penalty of suspension from office for six months, pursuant to Section 10, Rule III, Administrative Order No. 07, as amended by Administrative Order No. 17, in relation to Section 25 of Republic Act 6770.
The ruling against them stemmed after the city allowed the SM Prime Holdings, Incorporated (SMPHI) the lease of the Olongapo City Civic Center on August 7, 2015.
According to the resolution, the office finds probable cause to indict the respondents as the records “show that there was no compliance with the required procedure in the grant and the award of the lease contract, to the unwarranted benefit, advantage and preference of SMPHI.”
The resolution stated that Paulino awarded the contract in favor of SMPHI while the other officials confirmed the award in Resolution No. 158, series of 2014 by disregarding the requirements set by RA 6957, as amended by RA 7718, or the “act authorizing the financing, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure projects by the private sector and for other purposes.”
The law states that the RA 7718 requires the lapse of 60 working days from the date of the last publication of the Invitation to Submit Bids in a newspaper of general circulation before the unsolicited proposals by projects may be accepted by the local government unit.
The Office of the Ombudsman found out that the SBAC published the Invitation to Submit Bids in a newspaper on October 6, 13, and 20 of that year, but recommended the issuance of the Notice of Award in favor of SMPHI after ten days of the last publication. Paulino issued the Notice of Award the following day, October 31st, while the other officials confirmed the award through a resolution on November 12, 2014.
Meanwhile, the Olongapo officials have already filed a Motion for Reconsideration yesterday at the Office of the Ombudsman.