The Sandiganbayan has issued a fresh arrest warrant against Commissioner Grace Padaca of the Commission on Elections for her defiance to attend her arraignment on Thursday last week.
The Sandiganbayan Third Division released on Monday a bench order for the recapture of the former Isabela governor, following her absence in her arraignment related to her graft and malversation charges.
On October 17, Padaca was supposed to undergo a regular arraignment but she did not appear at the court proceeding, prompting the magistrates to order a warrant of arrest against her and to forfeit as well her P70,000 bail bond.
Padaca stands charged, along with provincial legal officer Johnas Lamonera, municipal councilor Servando Soriano and Dionisio Pine, manager of the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. (Edwinlfi), for the alleged improper award of a P25-million contract rice program.
The Office of the Ombudsman said that Padaca allowed Edwinlfi to act as the middle man in disbursing the loan to farmers, but the non-government organization failed to liquidate P3.6 million, and that P18 million of the loan were listed under loan receivables.
In May 2012, the Sandiganbayan issued its first warrant after finding probable cause against the poll commissioner.
Padaca immediately posted P40,000 for malversation and P30,000 for graft, a scene which triggered controversy since she admitted that the cash came from the pocket of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
She filed a petition for review before the Supreme Court to seek a temporary restraining order on the case, but the High Court has issued none to date.
The Sandiganbayan also denied her motion to dismiss on October 9 and ordered that the case be continued for hearing.
She was already conditionally arraigned before she flew to Dubai for a seminar on overseas absentee voting.
Upon her return, the Third Division scheduled a regular arraignment last October 17 but she failed to attend.
During the court hearing, Associate Justice Jose Hernandez ordered the issuance of a new warrant of arrest but it was only on Monday when the court released one.
Lawyer Dennis Pulma, division clerk, said that Padaca’s motion for reconsideration on her arrest is scheduled today.
Pulma said that the court did not specify if Padaca can re-post a bond, adding that she should be present in the hearing on Tuesday else law enforcers arrest her. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON