Padaca gets 24 years for malversation, graft
Raymund Catindig, Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former Isabela governor Grace Padaca may spend up to 24 years in prison after the Sandiganbayan convicted her of graft and malversation over the anomalous award of a contract worth P25 million to a private organization in 2006.

In a decision handed down yesterday, the anti-graft court’s third division sentenced Padaca to 12 to 14 years for malversation of public funds and six to 10 years for graft.

The court also ordered her perpetual disqualification from holding public office and to pay a fine of P18 million to the provincial government of Isabela.

The third division dismissed the cases against Padaca’s co-accused – former provincial legal officer Johnnas Lamonera, former municipal councilor Servando Soriano and Dionisio Pine – due to their death.

The court said Padaca signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. (EDWINFLI) for a hybrid rice program without the approval of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

”At the time accused Padaca signed the MOA, she was not duly authorized... to enter into it,” the  court ruling read.

”Although the Sangguniang Panlalawigan subsequently issued a resolution authorizing her to enter into a MOA with EDWINFLI, the same resolution specifically required the submission of the same MOA... for review and approval, which was not complied with,” it added.

The third division said Padaca also failed to justify the lack of pubic bidding before it awarded the contract to EDWINFLI.

The Office of the Ombudsman said EDWINLFI also failed to liquidate P3.6 million that should have been disbursed as loans to farmers while P18 million was listed under loan receivables.

In her defense, Padaca said no compensation was given to EDWINLFI and that farmers in Isabela received the entire amount through loans. 

Surprised

Talking to reporters after attending her promulgation, Padaca said she was surprised by the court’s decision.

She maintained that the project was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, adding that farmers benefited from the program.

“I don’t even know what to say. I did not gain a single centavo from that P25 million,” Padaca said.

Appeal

Padaca’s lawyer Rogelio Vinluan manifested that the former governor would file a motion for reconsideration of the court ruling.

The Sandiganbayan thus directed Padaca to pay an additional P70,000 on top of the P70,000 that she had posted for her to remain out of jail while appealing her case.

Padaca, a 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for government service, had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The cases  stemmed from her failure to file her statements of assets, liabilities and net worth from 2007 to 2010.

With her admission of guilt, the court fined her only P4,000.

GRACE PADACA
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