Former actor and Quezon City Councilor Roderick Paulate was suspended by the Sandiganbayan due to a pending graft case wherein he allegedly hired 30 ghost employees in 2010.
The anti-graft court issued him a 90-day preventive suspension order that was to be implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Paulate is running as a Quezon City Vice Mayor in the 2019 midterm elections.
He argued, however, that he cannot be suspended within 90 days before an election under the Local Government Code of 1991.
Sandiganbayan stressed that it is obliged to suspend a public official who has charges in relation to corruption through Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
It also cited that Paulate’s case is criminal, not administrative. Only those with administrative cases are protected by the Local Government Code.
The former actor is facing one count of graft and multiple counts of falsification of public documents for allegedly pocketing taxpayers’ money worth P1.1 million from July to November 2010 under the claim that it was for his supposed office employees.
Investigation revealed that Paulate faked numerous personal data sheets and endorsement letters of nonexistent people for jobs like field inspectors, district coordinators and office aides.
In July 2012, Roderick Paulate was suspended for six months without pay as a Quezon City councilor by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for his involvement in allegedly hiring ghost employees in 2010.
The suspension was due to an administrative case that was filed by the anti-graft agency’s Field Investigation Office.
The former actor was charged with serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, falsification of official documents, and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of service.
The investigation noted that Paulate received the ghost employees’ salaries amounting from P5,000 to P10,000 each and used it for his own personal gain from July 2010 to November 2010.
By January 2016, he was dismissed from public office by the Ombudsman and sanctioned with additional penalties—perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of civil service eligibility and forfeiture of his retirement benefits.
Paulate was formally charged in Sandiganbayan on April 2018 for violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and committing nine counts of falsification under the Revised Penal Code.
Two days after he was charged, he posted a bail bond of P246,000.
By March 2019, Sandiganbayan ordered him a 90-day suspension in relation to the case at hand. Part of its order notes:
“Accused Roderick Mendenilla Paulate is hereby ordered suspended from office and…is directed to cease and desist from further performing and/or exercising the functions, duties, and privilege of his position as Member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Quezon City.”
Reviewing Republic Act 3019
The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act aims to “repress certain acts of public officers and private persons alike which constitute graft or corrupt practices.”
Hiring ghost employees is prohibited under Section 3(e), which states that any official giving “unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence” is considered corrupt.
Public officials may be imprisoned from one to ten years and be perpetually disqualified to run in elections.