Padaca posts bail; Comelec office ready

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Grace Padaca posted bail Thursday, October 4, before the Sandiganbayan as the poll body prepares for her assumption in office.

Padaca posted a P70,000-bail despite earlier assertions that she will not do so. By doing this, Padaca would evade arrest for charges of graft and malversation of public funds filed before the Sandiganbayan.

Padaca was accompanied to the Sandiganbayan by Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II (who is on leave as president of the Liberal Party). President Benigno Aquino III himself paid for the bond, according to Padaca.

Early this morning, the Office of the Special Prosecutor asked the Sandiganbayan to order the police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to enforce the arrest warrant against her. The prosecutor argued that Padaca has managed to evade arrest since May, when the warrant was issued, despite the fact that the police and the NBI already had copies of her warrant.

But Padaca told reporters that she never evaded arrest. The police simply never arrested her, she said. Roxas agreed, citing conversations with the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, an ally of Padaca.

The late Robredo supervised the police. Roxas replaced him.

"I continue to have faith [in the judiciary]...I have no choice," Padaca said. "Kailangan natin magtiwala sa ating systema kaya lang po ay totoo lang talaga na kailangan maraming ayusin dito."

Padaca's bail would ease one of the legal issues which, according to observers, could impede her assumption of office in Comelec.

Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr, however, earlier said her graft case is not enough grounds for disqualification.

What could derail her confirmation at the Commission on Appointments, said Brillantes, is a question on the constitutionality of her appointment. The Constitution bars politicians who ran in the preceding elections from sitting as Comelec commissioner. The Palace, however, argues that while Padaca ran in the May 2010 elections, it is the October 2010 elections that precedes the upcoming 2013 polls.

In an interview with reporters Thursday morning, Brillantes said Padaca will likely be assigned to the Comelec's Second Division. Earlier, he said Padaca, a polio survivor, may also be assigned to handle the Comelec's committee on persons with disability.

Comelec staff have been preparing her office since Wednesday, October 3, a day after the Palace announced her appointment. – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II and Natashya Gutierrez/Rappler.com