Padaca pleads not guilty on ethics violation charge
Former Isabela governor Grace Padaca on Thursday pleaded not guilty on her ethics violation charge before the Sandiganbayan.
Padaca entered a not guilty plea during her scheduled arraignment before the anti-graft court Second Division.
Ombudsman prosecutors accused Padaca of violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which require public officials to declare a truthful statement of their wealth, liabilities, properties and business interests.
The Isabela provincial government supposedly only had on file Padaca’s 2004 and 2006 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
In an interview after her arraignment, Padaca said she pleaded not guilty because she is confident she filed all her SALNs when she was governor.
Padaca also questioned the undue speed of the case against her at the time of the filing of the certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections.
The case was filed at the Sandiganbayan in October, or before she filed her candidacy for Isabela governor. She is set to battle incumbent Isabela Governor Faustino “Bodjie” Dy III once again for Isabela governor as independent.
“If you remember, noong nagdesisyon ang Ombudsman tungkol dito, it was within the week of filing of certificates of candidacy. I don’t know kung nagkataon lang yun, pero para sa akin pangit yung timing,” Padaca said.
(When the Ombudsman arrived at a decision on this, it was within the week of filing of certificates of candidacy. I don’t know if it’s mere coincidence but for me, it’s bad timing.)
Padaca also said she is no longer a member of the Liberal Party.
Padaca said she is gunning for the gubernatorial seat as an independent.
“I was with the Liberal Party when it was the underdog. So hindi naman ganun kalaki ang naitulong noon so sanay din naman ako sa wala,” Padaca said.
(It [LP] didn’t help me much so I’m used to having [no party affiliation]).
Padaca had a falling out with the LP when its standard bearer Mar Roxas allied with Dy, who beat Padaca in the 2010 elections.
Padaca punctured the Dys’ four-decade rule when she won as governor in 2004. She was reelected in 2007.
“My only question is the ease by which they could ally with people who are not known to be Daang Matuwid. Yun lang ang question ko,” Padaca earlier said, when asked if she feels the LP and President Benigno Aquino III had abandoned her.
Padaca said she longer expects any help from the LP in the new case lodged against her over her missing SALN.
In 2012, President Aquino paid for the bail of Padaca when he appointed her to the Commission on Elections. Padaca was then charged with malversation and graft for an alleged anomalous loan to farmers.
In an earlier statement on the indictment against Padaca, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Padaca should have her own receiving copies of her SALN because it is “customary and essential” for proper record-keeping.
“It is difficult to fathom how respondent would be unfamiliar with such a practice or that she has not altogether adopted this procedure given her lengthy stint in government service,” Morales said.
Padaca, a polio survivor, served as Comelec commissioner from 2012 to 2014. She was eased out of the Comelec after she was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments.
Padaca toppled the Dy political dynasty in Isabela when she won as governor in 2004.
Though she was re-elected in 2007, she was disqualified by the Comelec in 2009 in favor of Dy’s electoral protest. She lost in 2010 by a slim margin.
The court set the preliminary conference for Padaca’s ethics violation case on March 29, and the pre-trial on May 23 and 24.
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