MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan third division has found former Isabela governor Grace Padaca guilty of graft and malversation in connection her involvement in the alleged misuse of some P25 million in agricultural funds in 2006.
In a decision rendered in open court, the Sandiganbayan found Padaca guilty and sentenced her to up to 14 years for the graft charge, and up to 10 years for the malversation charge.
The court also allowed Padaca to double her bail bond of P70,000 for her provisional liberty while she appeals the verdict.
In a chance interview following the promulgation, Rogelio Vinluan, Padaca’s lawyer, said they will immediately file a motion for reconsideration.
For her part, an emotional Padaca said she was surprised by the verdict, and maintained that she did not personally benefit from the P25 million.
“I don’t even know what to say. With the P25 million, I didn’t personally gain even one cent. That all went to the farmers of Isabela,” Padaca said, adding that the program was put into place so that the farmers don’t have to take out disadvantageous loans with traders and financiers.
Padaca also said she had the blessing of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan before entering into the Memorandum of Agreement.
“They gave me authority to enter into the MOA, this was notarized, which if why the decision baffles me,” she said in Filipino, adding that she is hopeful that the decision will be reversed.
The case stemmed from Padaca giving undue advantage to EDWINLFI, a non-government organization tapped to manage a credit facility for Isabela’s rice farmers under a hybrid seed distribution program.
As part of the program, the NGO received P25 million, which was part of a loan drawn by the provincial government from the Development Bank of the Philippines.
In addition to being a former governor, Padaca was also a Ramon Magsaysay Award recipient.