Former Isabela governor found guilty of graft, agriculture fund corruption

The country’s anti-graft court Sandiganbayan today convicted former Isabela province Governor Grace Padaca of graft and official misconduct over the misuse of PHP25 million (US$ 495,000) of agriculture funds in 2006.

The Quezon City court’s third division sentenced Padaca, a politician lauded for her development work, to six to 10 years of imprisonment for graft, and 12 to 14 years for malversation, a form of abuse of office, The Philippine Star reports.

Padaca was accused of favoring an NGO called the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. when she awarded it the PHP25 million priority grant for a hybrid rice project in 2006. The organization is said to manage credit and seed distribution for farmers in Isabela.

The national ombudsman’s office said Padaca illegally awarded the contract, as it was done without public bidding or any other legitimate procurement procedure. The accusation led to the former governor’s 90-day suspension, and to the Sandiganbayan calling for Padaca’s arrest in 2012.

Read: Senator Cynthia Villar calls Agriculture Dept “crazy” for doing “too much research”

Padaca told reporters today that she did not expect the guilty verdict, and insisted that she had the authority from the provincial council to enter into an agreement with the non-profit organization, ABS-CBN News reports.

“I don’t even know what to say,” she said in English and Filipino. “Of that PHP25 million, not a single cent went to me, it all went to the farmers of Isabela.”

The court has allowed Padaca to post bail of PHP140,000 (US$2,700) — twice what she posted when charges were initially filed — to remain free while she and her lawyer, Rogelio Vinluan, file a motion for reconsideration to appeal the verdict.

This article, Former Isabela governor found guilty of graft, agriculture fund corruption, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!