Grace Padaca: From 'nuisance' to Comelec commissioner

Former broadcaster Grace Padaca sits just fine in her new chair at Commission on Elections (Comelec).

With the guidance of Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento, Padaca now describes her role as an “agent of electoral reform."
 
“It’s (better) compared to being my being governor. Before, you have to think of problems on health, agriculture, (or) education. But here, it’s more focused,” Padaca told Yahoo! Southeast Asia in an exclusive interview.
 
“I’ve always advocated for electoral reform,” she added, enjoying what she described as “lighter responsibility” of deciding on disqualification cases for various candidacies pending in Comelec.
 
Padaca, who came in with five lawyers since her last-minute appointment as commissioner in October 5, admitted nothing suits her better than working in Comelec.
 
Sitting as one of the seven judges who will determine the legitimacy of the so-called colorful candidates’ senatorial bids, she admitted memory brought her back to a tough time when she entered politics.
 
“During the hearing of colorful candidates, I could really feel a little hurt for those who are not like the others that are not really weird. Five to seven of them are very sane,” Padaca disclosed.
 
“I was like them. Some of whom were really young… The first time I filed my candidacy in 2001, I was also laughed at,” she recalled.
 
Padaca, who can barely walk after surviving polio as a child, said her opponents called her nuisance. She resigned as a senior auditor at Commission on Audit to run for Congress.
 
In 2001, Padaca joined the congressional race because she wanted to give the people of the third district of Isabela the choice of having a leader other than members of the Dy family.
 
“The very guy who filed an Ombudsman case against me, my congressman Santiago Respicio, called me a nuisance candidate. His statement said I am cripple,” Padaca said.
 
“He’s a congressman, he doesn’t know the definition of a nuisance candidate. The bases of my physical handicap, that’s not even it,” she added.
 
Padaca, who relied on support from Catholic Church and her reputation as a radio commentator in Bombo Radyo, shared she actually shed tears for normal candidates who were branded as nuisance.
 
In actual hearings, the new commissioner said she had to hold back her tears twice, witnessing how people found it “entertaining and amusing” when new bets attempt to replace traditional politicians.
 
“In two cases, I saw myself in them,” she said, noting that she tries her best to know their capacity to campaign and the kind of supporters.
 
“My questions to them always (goes like) how do you deal with the people who taunt you? How do you answer family members who tell you you’re wishing too much?” the new commissioner added.

Padaca, who beat Faustino “Bojie” Dy Jr. in the 2004 gubernatorial race, said she admired the guts and raw passion that new candidates possess.
 
She also praised aspiring candidates who filed certificates of candidacy from Oct. 1 to 5 for stepping out in public to represent those who are tired of seeing members of political dynasties run for Senate.
 
“These people, they are as ordinary as I was when I first ran in 2001. I can really see… there’s a little Grace in them that even though it is as if they’re taking a shot at the moon, they are ready,” she said.
 

“They know that they’re more deserving than those who have money, that they are more qualified than those who are members of a political dynasty,” she added. - in an interview
 
Last week, Comelec revealed new names that will run for Senator in the mid-term elections next year like independent candidate Ricardo Penson and lawyer Samson Alcantara from Social Justice Society.
 
The poll body also declared Greco Antonious Beda Belgica, Baldomero Falcone, and Christian Señeres –from the newest accredited political party Democratic Party of The Philippines (DPP) as official senatorial candidates.
 
Padaca, who lost her reelection bid to Faustino “Bojie” Dy III in 2010, asked voters to give such candidates a chance, saying these candidates may do the unexpected change in national politics.
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