THE Court of Appeals (CA) has turned down a decision of the Office of the Ombudsman dismissing former actor and Quezon City councilor Roderick Mendenilla Paulate and several others.
In a 17-page decision penned by Associate Justice Stephen Cruz and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr. and Ramon Paul Hernando, the CA’s Fifth Division granted a petition for review filed by former councilors Paulate and Francisco Calalay Jr. and liaison officer Vicente Bajamunde.
It effectively reversed and set aside the decision dated February 25, 2015 of the Ombudsman dismissing Calalay, Paulate and Bajamunde and Flordeliza Acuña Alvarez from the service for falsification of official documents, serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Records of the case showed that in 2010, each office of the city councilor caused the hiring of approximately 120 non-plantilla personnel requiring technical or special skills on a job-order basis for local projects, which were at its sub-offices located outside the city hall premises, and paid for their services through its Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).
It was discovered, however, that the job contractors do not have birth records from the National Statistics Office (now Philippine Statistics Authority) or records from the National Bureau of Investigation.
The job contractors were also found to be not registered voters at their given addresses.
Further, the barangay (village) officials who have jurisdiction over the given places of residence, as well as the residents in the area, attested that either no such person resides there or no such address exists.
The discovery led to the job contractors’ dismissal after the case was filed before the Ombudsman until the case reached the CA.
In its November 11, 2016 ruling that was released just recently, the appellate court held that the Ombudsman failed “to adequately prove any link between petitioners and the alleged illegal transaction.”
The CA pointed out that Paulate, et al. was able to prove that they had no hand in the commission of the alleged irregularities.
“They may have signed and issued certifications in furtherance thereto. However, they merely relied in good faith on their subordinates. Further, there was no substantial evidence to prove that petitioners planned and conspired to defraud the government and benefit therefrom.”