Palace washes hands of Padaca's legal puzzle

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Nov 01 2012 03:42 PM | Updated as of Nov 02 2012 05:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang is washing its hands of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Grace Padaca’s legal predicament at the Sandiganbayan.

Padaca, who was appointed a month ago by President Benigno Aquino III, is now using her current position as a defense against the graft and malversation charges filed against her while she was still governor of Isabela.

In a text message to ANC, Padaca had said: "My attorney filed [Tuesday] afternoon a motion to dismiss or suspend proceedings on the cases vs me because, if allowed to proceed, would contravene constitutional mandate that members of constitutional commissions may only be removed from office by impeachment."

As an alternative, the proceedings at the Sandiganbayan can be suspended, she said.

In a text message to reporters, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said: “That is her own legal position and the Sandiganbayan will be the proper authority to rule whether her legal position is acceptable.”

The anti-graft court acquired jurisdiction over her case when the Office of the Ombudsman filed a graft case after she allegedly granted a P25 million hybrid rice project to a non-government organization during her term in 2006.

A warrant of arrest was issued, but was never served, starting May. She claimed she never evaded arrest since then.

It was only after her Comelec appointment that she paid bail amounting to P70,000. She said the bail came from Aquino’s personal money.