OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – A regional trial court in Quezon City on Tuesday, August 7, prevented the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from serving a notice of suspension to Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino and 15 other city officials.
The officials were earlier ordered suspended for 6 months by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 83 presiding judge Ralph Lee gave both the petitioners and respondent 15 days to submit their respective memorandums in support of their arguments.
The Ombudsman earlier ordered the 16 Olongapo officials suspended for 6 months for awarding a 25-year lease contract to SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SMPHI).
SMPHI is the property arm of SM Malls, the biggest mall operator in the country.
The RTC judge told both parties after 5 days have lapsed, it will make a decision on whether the court will grant or deny the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).
The judge said this is whether or not both parties submit their respective memorandums.
The court also ordered both parties to refrain during the period to refrain from any action that will render the issue before the court moot and academic.
Paulino, Vice Mayor Jong Cortez, incumbent councilors Benjamin Cajudo II, Ed Guererro, Noel Atienza, Winnie Ortiz, Edna Elane Linus Bacay, Randy Sionzon, Egmidio Gonzales Jr., and former councilor Ellen Dabu were the petitioners while DILG was represented by lawyer Christopher Tiu.
The city administrator, city planning officer, legal officer, accounting officer, and budget officer were also ordered suspended by the Ombudsman for simple misconduct.
Petitioners have questioned the Ombudsman’s decision, saying 6 months was excessive and not normal for such an offense as the usual penalty given was a mere reprimand or a maximum of one month suspension.
The temporary relief given by the court was received warmly by supporters of Paulino, who left the city hall they had occupied since Monday. – Rappler.com
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