CA grants petition for TRO filed by Roderick Paulate et al.By Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Comedian turned Councilor Roderick Paulate can now go back to work at the Quezon City Hall, at least for the next two months.
The Court of Appeals (CA) last week stopped the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from implementing an order suspending Paulate, another city councilor and a liaison officer for six months without pay on allegations that they included at least 60 “ghost” employees in the payroll of the city council.
In a four-page order dated Aug. 31, the appellate court’s special ninth division granted a petition for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Ombudsman and DILG, thus preventing the agencies from implementing the prevention suspension order issued earlier against Paulate, fellow Councilor Francisco Calalay and Vicente Bajamunde, a liaison officer who worked for one of them.
The TRO will be in effect for 60 days.
The three men are being investigated for possible malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents, violation of section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and falsification of official documents.
The Ombudsman, through the Field Investigation Office (FIO), subsequently recommended the conduct of an investigation against Paulate and company based on a complaint filed by Jimmy Lee Davis through his counsel, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr.
It then approved the FIO’s recommendation and placed the three men under preventive suspension for six months.
In their petition before the appellate court, Paulate and the two men said the implementation of the preventive suspension order would result in “irreparable’’ injury to them and render moot and academic their instant petition.
They also contended that the evidence against them was not strong because as “elected city councilors, they have the right to trust that their subordinates are performing their functions regularly in the [hiring]
of contractual personnel and that they were not expected to check all details involving the hiring of these personnel.’’
In addition, Paulate and company claimed that was no need for them to be suspended since the Ombudsman had in its possession the evidence against them, erasing the possibility that these could be tampered with or destroyed.
“After a careful perusal of the allegations contained in the present petition, verily, this court finds the petitioners will suffer great or irreparable injury if no temporary restraining order will be issued pending the determination of facts upon which this petition is based,’’ the court order penned by Associate Justice Socorro Inting said.