MANILA, Philippines – Former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca on Thursday said she believes the graft charges filed against her are the handiwork of her political rivals.
The Sandiganbayan fifth division on May 17 issued a warrant of arrest for Padaca for violation of Sec. 3(e) of the Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Padaca and several others were accused of giving "unwarranted advantage or preference benefits" to the Economic Development for Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation, Inc. (EDWINFLI) for the provincial rice program of Isabela.
They allegedly paid the non-government organization P25 million to manage, administer, and implement a supervised credit facility without public bidding.
Padaca, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for good governance, said it was obvious that the case was politically motivated. She said the case was filed against her several months before the 2007 election when she ran for governor.
The former governor beat then Rep. Faustino "Bojie" Dy III for the gubernatorial post.
“We have to understand that it is no surprise at all that political dynasties can do a lot. Hindi sila tatagal sa kapangyarihan kung hindi sila marunong magpahina ng kalaban,” Padaca said, supposedly referring to the Dy clan.
Padaca explained that the P25 million given to the non-government organization was duly approved by the provincial board, through a memorandum of agreement, and did not need to go under public bidding.
“It was the memorandum of agreement that helped us implement a program that aimed to lend money for our farmers at 1.5 percent interest rates against the 30 percent going rates by private financiers,” she said.
“We just wanted to help our farmers. The money was not given to the organization. The money was lent to farmers. Yung iba nakabayad na at nakautang ulit,” she added.
She also lamented that the case would not have gone this far if the Office of Ombudsman did not overturn the reinvestigation report of Assistant Special Prosecutor II Mary Ann T. Vela, who found no basis for the charges against her.