The Sandiganbayan has convicted former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca of malversation of public funds and graft and sentenced her to 14 years in prison.
The Ombudsman charged Padaca before the anti-graft court in connection with the grant of P25 million to a private entity for Isabela’s rice program during her watch as her province’s chief executive.
Padaca, who was present during the promulgation, expressed surprise over the verdict as she maintained that she was innocent.
“All of that amount went to the farmers. I know that they are mired in poverty, having to get loans from traders and financiers. None of that money went to me,” an emotional Padaca said in Filipino.
The anti-graft court ordered Padaca, a polio survivor, to pay the Isabela government P18 million as fine. She was convicted of graft for granting the P25-million contract to Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. The court said the contract for the implementation of Isabela’s rice program was anomalous because the memorandum of agreement between the two parties was not approved by the Provincial Board.
Padaca said she will appeal the case, insisting the contract was aboveboard.
She said the Provincial Board gave her the authority to enter into a memorandum of agreement with EDWINLFI and that she has presented proof of it, including evidence that the farmers benefited from the program.
“It took one year to mark the evidence… contracts and receipts issued by the farmers proving that they received the money. I did not enter into a MOA without Sangguniang Panlalawigan authority and this was notarized,” Padaca said in Filipino.
The Sandiganbayan sentenced Padaca to 12 to 14 years of jail time for her malversation conviction; and another six to 10 years prison time for her graft conviction.
The anti-court set Padaca’s appeal bail to P140,000. The amount was double the P70,000 amount of bail she earlier posted for her temporary liberty. The court gave her 10 days to post the bail.