MANILA — Former Quezon City councilor and actor Roderick Paulate was found guilty of graft and 9 counts of falsification by the Sandiganbayan over the hiring of fictitious job contract personnel in 2010.
In a decision of the anti-graft court's Seventh Division promulgated on Nov. 25, 2022, Paulate was sentenced to imprisonment of 6 to 8 years for graft and 6 months to 6 years for each count of falsification.
Along with his driver and liaison officer Vicente Bajamunde, who was also convicted of graft, Paulate was ordered to pay a fine of P1.1 million which is the total amount of the payrolls prepared for the job contractors.
Paulate was also fined P10,000 for each of the falsification cases.
The issues cited by the court included the lack of birth certificates of the job contractors. But Paulate argued during trial that certification of no birth does not conclusively prove that a person is fictitious.
“This may be rebutted by sufficient contrary evidence however, Paulate and Bajamunde have not presented any competent evidence to counter the negative certifications and certificates of no record,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo.
The court also noted that the job order employees have no record in the National Bureau of Investigation Clearance Database.
While all 30 employees are residents of Quezon City based on their personal data sheet (PDS), they could not be located during verifications conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman as to their residences or schools attended.
The court also took note that 2 of the job contractors appeared as “identical twins” based on their photos in their PDS and yet their personal details differed.
“These details may appear trivial, but they cast serious doubt on the genuineness of the PDS and existence of the job contractors when taken with the other pieces of evidences presented by the prosecution,” the court said.
Prosecution witnesses included state auditor Emilda Navarro who testified, among others, that she had not seen any daily time records for the job order personnel.
Defense witness Hubert Fernandez who served as Paulate’s chief of staff from 2010 to 2019 stated in his testimony that their area coordinators were the ones who looked for 30 people from their pool of volunteers during the campaign period.
Paulate also testified that the money went to the job order personnel and there were no complaints from the employees that they did not receive their salaries.
He also testified that the charges were politically motivated and the hired job contractors and their relatives just opted not to come out and talk about the issue for fear of reprisal.
The court however stressed in its ruling that Paulate cannot claim good faith and invoke the Arias doctrine to avoid criminal liability.
“Certainly, he failed to act in accordance with the demands of the responsibility that attaches to the office he was occupying,” the court said.