Sandigan orders arrest of SBMA head
BY MAHATMA RANDY V. DATU
The Manila Times
OLONGAPO CITY: The anti-graft court has ordered the arrest of former Olongapo City mayor Rolen Paulino, who is now chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), after it found probable cause to hold him in trial in connection with the long-term lease of city government properties to SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI). Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcegs issued the warrant of arrest on July 12, 2022 in connection with the criminal case SB22-CRM-0051 for violation of Section 3(e) of the Republic Act 3019, better known as “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.” The Sandiganbayan pointed out that after allowing the State to correct the defect in the amended information, the anti-graft court found the allegations in the present information sufficient to constitute an offense. Consequently, from analyzing the resolution issued by the Office of the Ombudsman and the pieces of evidence in support of the information, the court determined the existence of probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest against the accused, as stated in the 10-page resolution of the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division. In its motion for reconsideration, the prosecution argued that “the Court committed grave abuse of discretion in ruling that the allegations in the improved information were already present in the dismissed amended information.” It likewise avers “the court committed grave of discretion when it held that the additional allegations that the accused did not comply with the requisites prescribed by the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Law serves no purpose being superfluous.” The prosecution’s motion for reconsideration mainly questioned the court’s resolution during its proceedings held on April 1, 2022. Said resolution adopted the following matters: first, the matters raised in the information have been sufficiently addressed by the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division when it dismissed the original information dated Feb. 6, 2018, and the amended information filed later for the same alleged violation. With the dismissal by the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division, the prosecution admits that this deserved and was worthy of a petition for certiorari via rule 65 to the Supreme Court. The prosecution argues that this new “improved” information, which is the present subject matter of this case, is the most beneficial legal route to take. Prosecution noted that the correct remedy would have been the filing of a petition for certiorari, citing any alleged grave abuse of discretion and denial of due process by the Seventh Division in dismissing the previous information. In the statement, Sandigan states, “We surmise, however, that the period to file a certiorari petition may have lapsed, thus, a resort to the refiled information. The ‘improvement’ cited by the prosecution is nowhere to be found because the allegations which states, “and where the structures actually erected, built, assembled and constructed by SMPHI are those structures which are covered by, and fall under BOT Law, thereby giving unwarranted benefit, advantage of preference to SMPHI, to the damage and prejudice of the government.’” Meanwhile, Paulino has filed a P30,000 bail bond for his temporary liberty.