Did Padaca get special treatment when she posted bail? Probe underwayBy Fat Reyes
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan on Wednesday confirmed that it was conducting an investigation into the reports that special treatment was given to newly appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Grace Padaca when she posted her bailbond last week.
In a phone interview, Lawyer Renato Bocar, Sandiganbayan spokesperson, said that they were conducting a probe on how Padaca was allowed to use the basement parking, which he said was for the exclusive use of Sandiganbayan justices and other officials of the court.
He said that based on the initial investigations, a bailiff had ordered the guards to allow Padaca and her companions to use the parking slot, but that the bailiff was also pinpointing another person who made the authorization.
“They are finger-pointing at each other so the Sandiganbayan decided to launch an investigation to pinpoint the people responsible,” Bocar said.
When asked about reports that a Sandiganbayan justice had made the authorization, Bocar said, “That is part of the investigation but the justice concerned has vehemently denied this.”
Bocar added that the probe was made because the situation could be seen as a “breach of security protocol.”
Padaca posted a 70,000 bail bond at the Sandiganbayan last week and was accompanied by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and her lawyer, Rogelio Vinluan.
In a statement Wednesday, the United Nationalist Alliance criticized the reported privileges given to Padaca and Roxas, saying that the Sandiganbayan should make public its investigation.
“It is in the public interest that the results of the investigation being conducted reportedly upon the behest of the other justices be made public. As a co-equal branch of government, the judiciary must always be seen as independent,” UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco said in the statement.
“If proven true, the report would ‘gravely undermine the independence of the Sandiganbayan in the eyes of the people,’” he added.
Asked to react about this, Bocar said that it would depend on the justices if they would want to divulge the details of the investigation to the public.
Tiangco, however, said that while the Sandiganbayan may have given Padaca considerations because of her disability, the same cannot be said of Roxas.
“The privilege given to Roxas is more problematic. We may grant that given Padaca’s disability, some leeway may be accorder to her. But Roxas cannot claim any disability,” he said.
Roxas, who is on leave as Liberal Party, had been reported to be the LP’s main candidate for the 2016 presidential elections. He would be going against UNA’s candidate, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Tiangco, in his statement, said that Roxas’ camp could be expected “to use all avenues to bring down the high performance and trust rating” of Binay, adding that this could include “resurrecting old charges against the Vice President or concocting new ones.”
“Either way, such dirty politicking could end up before the Sandiganbayan. That a justice of the Sandiganbayan has reportedly extended to Roxas such special privilege, if true, is very troubling,” he said.