Padaca: Lawyers told me to skip hearing
MANILA - Commission on Elections Commissioner Grace Padaca on Tuesday defended her decision not to appear before the Sandiganbayan last week during her arraignment on graft and malversation charges.
In a statement, Padaca said she has never failed to attend a Sandiganbayan hearing whenever summoned but skipped last week's hearing on the advice of her lawyers.
"Last Thursday , my lawyers did not ask me to attend anymore the hearing set for my arraignment because I have already been arraigned last year. Moreover, my lawyers just received a copy of the Sandiganbayan's resolution denying my Motion to Dismiss the case and we intend to file a motion for reconsideration within the period prescribed by law," she said.
Padaca said she has until October 24 to file a motion for reconsideration. Her lawyers also filed the necessary motion to have the arrest warrant and bail bond forfeiture lifted, she said.
"My non-appearance at the hearing last Thursday was solely for the reasons cited above and not meant to disrespect and ignore orders and processes of the Sandiganbayan. Our motion is set for hearing today," she said.
A Philippine Star report on Tuesday said the Sandiganbayan Third Division issued a warrant of arrest for Padaca after she failed to attend her arraignment on graft and malversation charges last Thursday.
Padaca is accused of irregularly disbursing a P25-million grant to the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. (EDWINLFI), a private organization, when she was governor of Isabela.
Padaca’s co-accused are provincial legal officer Johnas Lamonera, former vice mayor Servando Soriano of Roxas, Isabela and EDWINLFI manager Dionisio Pine.
The Office of the Ombudsman said that Padaca allowed EDWINLFI to act as middleman in disbursing the loan to farmers, but it failed to liquidate P3.6 million and that P18 million of the loan was listed under loan receivables.
In May 2012, the Sandiganbayan issued its first warrant of arrest after finding probable cause against Padaca.
Padaca posted P40,000 bail for the malversation charge and P30,000 bail for the graft complaint. She admitted that the P70,000 came from President Aquino.
She filed a petition for review before the Supreme Court to seek a temporary restraining order on the case but the high court has issued none to date.
The Sandiganbayan also denied her motion to dismiss on Oct. 9 and ordered that the case be continued for hearing.
Earlier, Padaca was conditionally arraigned but she failed to attend her regular arraignment scheduled by the Third Division last Thursday. This prompted the magistrates to issue a warrant of arrest against her and forfeit her P70,000 bail bond. With a report by The Philippine Star