Padaca denies going into hiding

Posted at 10/03/12 9:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca has denied that she is in hiding amid charges of graft and malversation of public funds filed against her.

In a message sent to ABS-CBN News, Padaca said she has been prepared to go to jail for the past 4 months.

She added that she didn't post bail to protest the case against her. But it seems, she will now have to do just that.

“For 4 months now, I've had an overnight bag in the car, ready to be arrested anytime. I planned not to voluntarily post bail as my way of protesting the process by which the case was decided upon and the warrant of arrest issued,” she said.

Padaca has been appointed as new Comelec commissioner, but she said she has no plans of going to the Comelec yet.
She also left it to the Palace to defend her appointment. Malacañang, however, maintains Padaca is fit for the post.

“Grace Padaca is a woman of integrity. She will be fair to all concerned and she will apply election laws in a fair and judicious manner,” said Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Warrant of arrest

The Sandiganbayan earlier reminded Padaca that she can be arrested anytime despite her appointment as new Comelec commissioner.

Anti-graft court spokesman Ruth Ferrer points out that the 5th division's warrant of arrest issued last May remains valid.

This is in connection with cases for graft and malversation of public funds filed against Padaca for allegedly favoring an non-government organization when she was still Isabela governor.

Bail was set at a total of P70,000 for the 2 cases.

Padaca did not post bail, and instead sought relief from the high court.

Ferrer notes it’s up to authorities when to arrest Padaca.

She said there were attempts to arrest Padaca in June and July, but she could not be located.

“The warrant of arrest knows no territories. The ball is not in the hands of the Sandiganbayan, it is with the arresting officers,” said Ferrer.

Comelec office

Meanwhile, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes has begun preparing Padaca's office, vehicle and staff.

He is considering giving to Padaca the committees assigned to Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco, commissioners retiring in February.

“Kailangan na namin siya, matagal nang bakante ito eh, since April,” said Brillantes.

Brillantes also says it’s up to the Commission on Appointments to deal with challenges against Padaca's appointment. -- ANC