ANTI-GRAFT court Sandiganbayan has convicted former Isabela governor Grace M. Padaca for graft and malversation of funds.
Ms. Padaca, also a former Commision on Elections commissioner, said she will file a motion for reconsideration on the decision, which also orders her to pay P36 million with interest plus a jail sentence of 12 to 40 years.
“Decision has been promulgated. Guilty daw ako (They said I am guilty),” she said in a social media post on Friday.
The case involves a P25 million fund that was used as a low-interest loan to farmers.
Ms. Padaca said she was surprised with the verdict considering evidence and testimonies shown against her were “weak.”
She added that she presented sufficient evidence on the regularity of the loan program, including receipts, contracts, and other documents.
Ms. Padaca was accused of granting the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. (EDWINLFI) the authority to manage the loan program without any fair advantage.
Ms. Padaca defended that the Isabela provincial board approved the agreement with the organizations for the program’s implementation.
“Hindi ako magnanakaw. Wala kahit sampera mula sa P25M ang napunta sa akin. Ang buong pera ay napunta sa programa para sa mga magsasaka (I am not a thief. I did not get a single centavo of the P25 million. The entire fund went to the program for farmers),” she said.
Ms. Padaca was elected and served as Isabela governor for two terms, from June 2004 to June 2010. She was given the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 2008. — Gillian M. Cortez