SBMA chief cries foul over alleged graft case

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairperson and Administrator Rolen Paulino on Friday lambasted resurfacing reports of his involvement in graft charges filed against him and 15 other officials of the local government of Olongapo City when he was then mayor.

The SBMA chief said that the graft charges against him was dismissed three years ago, stressing that the resurfacing reports were “politically motivated” moves against him.

Paulino stressed that when he was Olongapo City mayor, the subject case involving the construction of Gordon College and SM Central had been dismissed three years ago by the Sandiganbayan and that it merely resurrected when a 3rd motion for reconsideration from the prosecution was granted.

“This is obviously politically motivated and has absolutely nothing to do with my current role as chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority,” Paulino said.

Paulino’s statements came after news surfaced that the Sandiganbayan has ordered his arrest along with Vice Mayor Aquilino Cortez, and former city councilors Elena Dabu, Benjamin Gregorio Cajudo II, Eduardo Guerrero, Noel Atienza, Alreuella Bundang-Ortiz, Edna Elane, Emerito Bacay, Randy Sionzon, and Egmidio Gonzales Jr.

The other officials who were accused include members of the Special Bids and Awards Committee Tony-Kar Balde III of the City Planning and Development, Cristiflor Buduhan from the Office of the City Accountant, Ann Sison of the Office of the City Legal Office, Mamerto Malabute of the Office of the City Administrator, and Department II Head Joy Cahilig from the City Budget Office.

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division found probable cause for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended.

The Fifth Division granted the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration and set aside the 1 April 2022, resolution from the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division.

The Seventh Division dismissed the charges on 6 February 2018, citing that the division found no sufficient grounds for a probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest against the accused.

The case was dismissed in 2019 as the Seventh Division ruled that the lease agreement was for commercial purposes and outside the parameters of the Build Operate and Transfer law.

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