MANILA, Philippines - Newly appointed Commission on Elections Commissioner Grace Padaca has assumed office and said she may leave the Liberal Party and the Kaya Natin movement.
Padaca said she will be independent, downplaying any possible indebtedness to President Benigno Aquino who paid her bail for graft and malversation cases, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who accompanied her to the court.
“I will be myself. I will be Grace Padaca,” she said.
Padaca told her critics that she will show her independence in time. She said it's important to her that people like Aquino and Roxas believe in her innocence.
She also dismissed criticism from the United Nationalist Alliance that she has failed he first test of independence since she is just assuming office.
She said she has not issued a decision that merits UNA's criticism.
Padaca also said she will be inhibit from any possible cases over the candidacy of her brother, Marlo Angelo, in Isabela.
She said she will not help him, noting it will be unfair to his opponents. She believes her fellow commissioners will make sure she inhibits from proceedings about her brother.
Padaca went to the Comelec after taking her oath of office before Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Padaca met with Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and fellow commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Armando Velasco, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph. Commissioner Christian Robert Lim was not around.
Brillantes announced that Padaca will sit with the 2nd division, as she is replacing Gus Lagman whose appointment was not renewed by President Aquino.
Padaca is expected to join the poll body for its en banc Tuesday wherein the poll body will promulgate its resolution on early voting for media, as well as the accreditation of party-list groups seeking to run in the 2013 midterm elections.
Brillantes welcomed Padaca, noting that the poll body is finally complete. He said they are still discussing her specific assignments.
Padaca described her assumption as “surreal,” noting she has been a candidate for 4 elections already.
She said she knows how important the role of the Comelec is and hopes she can help the commission.
Padaca downplayed her being a non-lawyer, saying many of the 20 staff members she is allowed to appoint will be lawyers.
She believes she will be sufficiently guided.
She also said her being a certified public accountant will be helpful.
She wants to help in the preparations for the automated elections, as well as monitoring campaign finance.
Padaca said she would like to work against vote-buying, noting that the automated elections spawned vote-buying since the precint count optical scan machines limit opportunities to manipulate the election results.