Sandiganbayan affirms conviction of ex-QC dad Roderick Paulate

ACTOR and ex-councilor of Quezon City Roderick Paulate

QUEZON CITY – The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its decision finding actor-comedian and former Quezon City councilor Roderick Paulate guilty of graft and falsification of public documents over the hiring of fictitious job contract personnel in 2010.

In a resolution dated Jan. 23, 2023, the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division denied the motions for reconsideration filed by Paulate and his co-accused Vicente Bajamunde who was also convicted of graft.

The court said the accused failed to raise new material allegations that would persuade it to reconsider or reverse its previous finding of guilt.

“After a careful perusal of the arguments raised by accused, the court finds no cogent reason to disturb its earlier findings,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo.

Among the issues reiterated by the accused was that the court erred on the core issue of whether the job contractors recommended by Paulate did not exist.

Paulate and Bajamunde pointed out the statement of a witness from the National Statistics Office that while they did not have the birth certificates of the supposed ghost employees, it was also possible that a person could exist with their birth unregistered.

Paulate also claimed that the prosecution failed to prove that he knew that the employees did not exist.

The prosecution meanwhile told the court that it was not their job to prove the accused knew that the job contractors were inexistent. They argued that they only needed to prove that the contractors did not exist with the best evidence obtainable.

“Accused also contend that the court is asking for an absurdity and impossibility in ruling that accused Paulate should have checked and verified the contractors way back in 2010 because at that time, he had no reason nor an inkling to believe that the job contractors are ghosts,” the court noted in the resolution.

In its resolution, the court disagreed with the assertion of Paulate that he merely relied on the guidance and good faith of his staff and the personnel department of the then Office of the Vice Mayor.

“To hold otherwise would open suggestions to public officials to engage in corrupt practices or perform acts that may result in graft and corruption and subsequently raise the defense of mere reliance on his subordinates,” the court said.