No stopping Padaca from sitting in Comelec—PalaceBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
There’s nothing in the law, not even a graft case, to prevent Grace Padaca from sitting as a commissioner in the Commission of Elections (Comelec), Malacañang said Wednesday.
The former Isabela governor can perform the job “competently and without fear or favor” even if she’s fighting a graft case before the Sandiganbayan antigraft court, said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
Lacierda said he was positive that Padaca would not be assigned as Comelec commissioner to a region where she would be handling cases involving her provincemates.
President Benigno Aquino has appointed Padaca to replace information technology expert Augusto Lagman who failed to get confirmation from the congressional Commission on Appointments.
Padaca, 49, is facing arrest over graft charges which she said were politically motivated. She has refused to post bail in protest at the way the case was decided against her. But with her new appointment, Padaca said she may now need to post bail.
Padaca is accused of awarding to a nongovernment organization in 2006, while still Isabela governor, a contract to manage a P25-million credit facility for rice farmers, without public bidding. She has argued that bidding was not required, and the government was not adversely affected by the deal.
Lacierda said that contrary to some observations, Padaca’s candidacy in the May 2010 gubernatorial race did not bar her from sitting in the Comelec.
The Constitution states that the chair and six commissioners of the poll body must not have been candidates for any elective position in the “immediately preceding elections,” among other requirements.
According to Lacierda, the immediately preceding elections were the October 2011 barangay polls, not the May 2010 elections, hence Padaca could not be disqualified from the post.
“She was not a candidate for the barangay elections. The Constitution does not say it should be a national election. So where the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish,” he said.
He said Padaca was very much qualified for the position.
“She’s a woman of integrity. We believe she can apply the election laws in an objective manner and she will advance also the cause and reforms in the Comelec,” he said.