MANILA, Philippines - Newly appointed Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Grace Padaca failed the "first test of independence" when she accepted the help of Liberal Party president-on-leave Mar Roxas in posting bail before the Sandiganbayan, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said Friday.
In a statement, UNA Secretary General Toby Tiangco blasted Padaca for coming to the Sandiganbayan with Roxas.
“We are saddened that newly-appointed Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca failed her first test of independence when she posted her bail before the Sandiganbayan last Thursday accompanied by LP President-on-leave and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas,” he said.
“Her subsequent statement extolling the personal qualities of DILG Secretary Roxas sounded like a campaign pitch. It betrays the strong political link between Commissioner Padaca and Roxas' LP, where she was a ranking leader prior to her appointment,” he added.
Tiangco also criticized Padaca’s statement that she still needs to learn how to be independent.
"With all due respect to the Madam Commissioner, political independence is not learned. You are either politically independent or you are partisan," he said.
Tiangco also questioned the fairness of Philippine National Police (PNP) and the DILG when they failed to serve immediately the arrest warrant for Padaca.
Padaca is facing charges of graft and malversation of public funds for allegedly granting a P25-million hybrid rice project to a non-government organization when she was still governor of Isabela.
“Moral governance demands equal application of the law, and political allies are not exempt. We are asking the PNP and the DILG to explain their failure to serve the warrant issued by the Sandiganbayan for the arrest of Commissioner Padaca,” Tiangco said.
Tiangco also mentioned the issue of a 90-day automatic suspension for public officials charged before the Sandiganbayan.
“Commissioner Padaca, we believe, is not exempt from this rule, unless the LP wants to show that their members and allies are above the law,” he said.
“During the Arroyo administration, we decried the abuse of government powers for political ends. The law enforcement agencies were either reluctant or given orders to go easy on members of the Arroyo party and officials of the Arroyo administration facing charges in court. Are we seeing a repeat of this abuse of power under the DILG?” he added.