By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has affirmed the 90-day suspension of Quezon City Councilor and actor Roderick Paulate in light of his pending graft and falsification charges due to the reportedly “fictitious job contractors” he hired back in 2010.
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 of them 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.
On March 11, the anti-graft court issued a resolution ordering his preventive suspension so that he would not be able to “frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both.”
Paulate filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the suspension should have been done before arraignment when he could still attack the validity of the information.
He added that there was no reason for his preventive suspension, since the Quezon City Council had already adjourned and the elective officials have stopped coming to office.
However, the anti-graft court ruled that the validity of the information has already been upheld. As such, the suspension mandated by Section 13 of R.A. 3019 became mandatory.
“There is also no merit in his argument that there is no reason to suspend because accused stopped coming to the office because the City Council had already been adjourned,” the resolution read. “It should be stressed that the court possesses no discretion to determine whether a preventive suspension is necessary to forestall the possibility that the accused may use his office to intimidate witnesses, or frustrate his prosecution, or continue committing malfeasance.”
Paulate even suggested that the order for his preventive suspension was “tainted with partisan politics.” But the court would beg to differ, stressing that it was apolitical and it does not, and will not, engage in partisan politics.
“Accused’s imputations towards the court are clearly malicious and unsubstantiated, and constitutes a blatant disrespect amounting to violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility,” it added.
The resolution denying Paulate’s MR was written by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses with the concurrence of Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo.