Ex-Isabela governor convicted of graft, malversation

Published November 15, 2019, 12:10 PM

by Dr. Eduardo Gonzales

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca has been convicted by the Sandiganbayan Third Division of graft and malversation charges involving the irregular use of P25-million worth of agricultural funds in 2006.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Padaca was sentenced to imprisonment of six to 10 years for her violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and 12 to 14 years for her violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as Malversation of Public Funds.

For now, the anti-graft court allowed her to pay P140,000 for her provisional liberty, which is double the existing bail bond she posted when the charges were initially filed.

After the promulgation, Padaca and her lawyer, Rogelio Vinluan, revealed that they will appeal the conviction and file a motion for reconsideration. Padaca added that she could not understand how the Sandiganbayan reached a guilty verdict since not a single centavo from the P25 million reached her pockets.

“I don’t even know what to say,” she said. “‘Yung P25 million na yun, ni piso ni centimo walang napunta sa akin. Lahat napunta sa mga magsasaka ng Isabela (The P25 million, not a peso or a centavo went to me. All of that went to the farmers of Isabela).”

She added that farmers always take out loans from traders and financiers, so the program implemented was designed to help them sustain their livelihood.

Padaca’s charges were in relation to the deal she struck with the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Incorporated (EDWINLFI) in 2006.

Padaca, who was also appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III as Commission on Election (Comelec) Chair in 2012, decided to award P25 million to EDWINLFI so that it could manage a credit facility for Isabela’s rice farmers, but the prosecution faulted Padaca because of her failure to undergo public bidding for the said deal.