The Sandiganbayan has allowed the presentation of a witness, who had failed to attend previous hearings, to testify in the criminal charges filed against Quezon City Councilor Roderick M. Paulate and his driver and liaison officer, Vicente Bajamunde.
In a resolution, the anti-graft court granted the motion for reconsideration and allowed the presentation as a defense witness of Commission on Audit (COA) representative Emilda G. Navarro on June 28.
Paulate and Bajamunde have been with charged with graft and falsification of public documents in connection with the alleged hiring in 2010 of about 60 “fictitious job contractors” in the councilor’s office.
The original motion of Paulate and Bajamunde for the presentation of Navarro as their witness had been denied. They filed a motion for reconsideration which was granted by the court.
They told the court that the non-availability of Navarro in previous hearings was due to circumstances beyond their control. They said they exerted diligent efforts to assure Navarro’s presence during the hearings but they failed.
They also said that Navarro was unavailable since she was finalizing the Annual Audit Report and Exit Conference with the Valenzuela City mayor.
“Where the ends of substantial justice shall be better served, the application of technical rules of procedure may be relaxed. Besides, the prosecution will not be prejudiced by the presentation of a witness from COA because whatever may be established could be refuted if it is not in accordance with the truth,” the court’s resolution said.
Associate Justice Zaldy V. Trespeses wrote the resolution with the concurrence of Seventh Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina D. Hidalgo.