Roderick Paulate slapped with 90-day suspension for graft, falsification charges

Published March 18, 2019, 11:21 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki

Quezon City Councilor and actor Roderick Paulate has been slapped with a 90-day suspension by the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division for his pending graft and falsification charges due to the reportedly “fictitious job contractors” he hired back in 2010.

(MANILA BULLETIN)
(MANILA BULLETIN)

Paulate was accused of violating one count of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and nine counts of Par. 2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code together with his driver and liaison officer, Vicente Bajamunde, who has been charged with one graft charge and eight falsification charges.

From July to December, 2010, the two were accused of causing undue injury to Quezon City in the total amount of P1,109,000 when they hired around 60 “fictitious job contractors” in Paulate’s office for his personal gain.

A pre-suspension hearing was conducted by the anti-graft court on February 8, 2019, and Paulate was given the opportunity to file his comment and show cause why he should not be preventively suspended. The prosecution was likewise given time to comment.

Paulate filed his comment on March 1, arguing that the purpose of the preventive suspension is to keep him from obstructing investigators in the gathering of evidence and possible witnesses. Since the case is already in its pre-trial stage, Paulate said there is nothing he could do to influence it.

He also invoked Section 62(c) of the Local Government Code, which prohibits imposition of preventive suspension within 90 days immediately prior to any election.

Unfortunately for Paulate, the anti-graft court did not find any merit in his arguments.

“Accused argues that since the pieces of evidence are now in the possession of the prosecution, then there is no more investigation to impede, people to influence or intimidate, nor documentary evidence to tamper with. We find this argument misplaced,” the court ruled.

While the investigation has already been terminated, the case is still in the pre-trial stage where the prosecution is in the process of collating evidence and securing its witnesses.

During this process, the court said that the prosecution must be given the opportunity to adequately prepare for trial without any intervention or interference from Paulate.

“We should also not lose sight of the fact that accused Paulate is an incumbent elected official and logically possesses influence. This is a reality that we cannot ignore, hence, the legal presumption that unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both,” the resolution stated.

The resolution, promulgated on March 11, was written by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses, with the concurrence of chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has been directed to implement the suspension order of Paulate.

 
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