Olongapo mayor, councilors serve 6-month suspension | Inquirer News

Olongapo mayor, councilors serve 6-month suspension

Officials step down as DILG implements Ombudsman order
By: - Correspondent / @amacatunoINQ
/ 05:20 AM September 04, 2018

STEPPING DOWN Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino is leaving office after receiving an order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government implementing the Ombudsman’s decision suspending him. —ALLAN MACATUNO

OLONGAPO CITY— Mayor Rolen Paulino stepped down on Monday to serve a six-month suspension imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman for a bidding error in leasing a city property to a shopping mall giant.

Paulino, Vice Mayor Aquilino Cortez, eight incumbent councilors, a former councilor and virtually the rest of the city’s top government officials were ordered suspended but the order that was served on Monday by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) was addressed only to the mayor.


Show of support


Around 200 supporters of Paulino gathered outside City Hall until late Monday.

The Ombudsman ruled that the mayor and the city officials were guilty of simple misconduct for violating bidding procedures when they awarded the Olongapo City Civic Center, also known as the KBG Complex, to a mall developer.

Because even Cortez, the successor, had been suspended, Paulino would be replaced until March 3, 2019, by Councilor Lugie Lipumano-Garcia.

Respecting decision

At the flag ceremony on Monday morning, Paulino said he and the suspended officials would respect the Ombudsman decision but they asserted that they did nothing wrong.

“We did not neglect our duties and we never abused our authority,” Paulino said.


Senator Richard Gordon, a former Olongapo mayor, earlier filed a graft complaint against Paulino and the city officials in the Office of the Ombudsman over the KBG deal.

The Ombudsman suspension order, issued on February 6, addressed an earlier complaint filed by Rodalyn Guinto Hanif, who said the lease would displace the museum, library, the city disaster risk reduction and management office, and the convention center.

Last term

Gordon had directed his lawyer to petition the Ombudsman to increase the penalty against Paulino; Cortez; former Councilor Ellen Calma Dabu; and incumbent Councilors Benjamin Cajudo II, Edgardo Guerrero, Noel Atienza, Alreuela Bundang-Ortiz, Edna Elane, Linus Bacay, Randy Sionzon and Egmidio Gonzales Jr.

Also ordered suspended by the Ombudsman were members of the special bids and awards committee headed by Tony-Kar Balde III as well as heads of offices Cristiflor Buduhan (city planning), Anna Marin Sison (accounting), Mamerto Malabute (legal and administration) and Joy Cahilig (budget).

It was not clear how the city government would operate once the rest of these officials begin serving their respective suspensions.

“They might be doing us a very good favor. It’s my last term and [because of this suspension, I might get a fresh new term in 2019],” Paulino said.


The suspension should have been served last month, but Judge Ralph Lee of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 83 issued a status quo order.

Lee gave the Olongapo officials and the DILG “15 days from Aug. 7 within which to submit their respective memorandums in support of their respective arguments on the propriety of issuing a [temporary restraining order].”

The status quo order had lapsed and Paulino’s camp failed to secure a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Court of Appeals.

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“I don’t harbor ill feelings. There’s a reason this is happening,” Paulino said.

TAGS: KBG deal, Lease, Local news, News, Olongapo City, Ombudsman, Politics, regional news, Regions, Rolen Paulino, shopping mall, suspension

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