Has President Benigno Aquino 3rd dropped Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Grace Padaca?
The cold treatment being given by Malacañang to the former Isabela governor was evident on Tuesday when Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. confirmed that Padaca has not been issued an ad-interim appointment by the President after she was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
“We have verified that no new appointment has been issued as of now,” Coloma said in a news briefing, bolstering suspicion that Aquino was giving Padaca the boot over a string of charges she faces at the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.
Last week, The Manila Times reported that Aquino was no longer inclined to reappoint Padaca because of her pending cases.
“She failed to file her SALN [statement of assets, liabilities and net worth]for three years when she was still governor. She has also a graft case,” a Times source said.
But Coloma said the President can still appoint Padaca if he wishes while Congress is in recess.
“According to the Constitution, bypassed appointees may be given new appointments while Congress is in recess,” he pointed out.
From its sine die adjournment, Congress will resume session in late July, after which the President can no longer reappoint Padaca.
When asked if Aquino has finally decided to let Padaca go, Coloma replied: “We still have no information on that.”
When a warrant of arrest was issued against Padaca years ago, it was Aquino who shoulder her P70,000 bail.
Earlier this year, the Office of the Ombudsman asked the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the trial of Padaca, who is facing charges of malversation and graft.
The graft case stemmed from Padaca’s awarding of a P25-million grant to the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. that was disbursed without the concurrence or approval of the Isabela provincial board when she was Isabela governor.
Padaca entered a plea of not guilty on October 22, 2013.