SBMA chief cries over suspected transplant cases

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Rolen Paulino released reports on Friday of his involvement in transplant allegations leveled against him and 15 other Olongapo City local government officials when he was mayor was, brought to light again.

The SBMA chief said the transplant charges against him were dismissed three years ago and stressed that the resurfacing reports were “politically motivated” moves against him.

Paulino stressed that when he was mayor of Olongapo City, the case in question involving the construction of Gordon College and SM Central had been dismissed by the Sandiganbayan three years ago and was revived only after a third application for re-election examination by the public prosecutor’s office was granted.

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

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

Other officers charged include Special Offers and Pricing Committee members Tony-Kar Balde III of Urban Planning and Development, Cristiflor Buduhan of the City Accountant’s Office, Ann Sison of the City Legal Bureau’s Office, Mamerto Malabute of the City Government’s Office and Department Head Joy Cahilig from the City Treasury Department.

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The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division found a probable cause for an 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 Procuratorate’s request for review and overturned the decision of the Seventh Division of the Sandiganbayan on April 1, 2022.

The Seventh Division dismissed the charges on February 6, 2018, on the grounds that the Division had not found sufficient probable cause to issue an arrest warrant for the defendant.

The case was dismissed in 2019 when the Seventh Division ruled that the lease was for commercial purposes and outside the parameters of the Construction Operations and Transmissions Act.

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