Court approves status quo order to Olongapo officials

By Jonas Reyes

OLONGAPO CITY – The Regional Trial Court Branch 83 of Quezon City Tuesday has approved a Status Quo Ante Order to Olongapo officials upon filing for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on their impending six-month suspension order by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Hon. Judge Ralph Lee has given the Status Quo Order to Mayor Rolen Paulino and his officials, adding that they are given 15 days to submit their respective memorandum to support their claim whether or not to give them a TRO.

The filing of the TRO stemmed after the Office of the Ombudsman charged Simple Misconduct against the city officials regarding the awarding of the rental of lots in Olongapo City to SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI).

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, the officials should have awarded the rental of the lots 60 days after being published in general circulation newspapers but was later found out that it was awarded ten days only after being published in general circulation newspapers.

Hence, 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.

Currently, the local officials including many residents of the city protested in front of the city hall to show their support for the officials charged with Simple Misconduct. Three coffins were placed in front of the city hall on Monday by some of their supporters to show the “death of democracy in Olongapo.”