CAGAYAN, Philippines – Former Isabela governor and ex-election commissioner Maria Gracia Cielo "Grace" Padaca might run against incumbent Governor Faustino Dy III for the gubernatorial post in 2016.
Padaca, who beat Faustino Dy Jr in the 2004 Isabela gubernatorial race but lost to the incumbent governor in 2010, said she has not made up her mind although her allies are urging her to “join them in their fight for good governance” in the 2016 elections.
“The mayoral levels are asking me, actually, quite begging me, to go with them because they said it will be difficult to run without a head,” Padaca told Rappler in a phone interview on Friday, August 21.
She said they gave her until end of September to decide.
Padaca refused to say whether she would, as in the past, be running under the ruling Liberal Party.
In 2012, two years after she lost the gubernatorial race, Padaca was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III as Commission on Elections commissioner. Aquino however chose not to re-appoint her in 2014 after she was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments. (READ: Padaca speaks out on Comelec departure)
Padaca stressed then that the President's decision would not affect her ties with him.
Isabela, which has a voting population of 924,892 per latest government data, has been an opposition country under Aquino, a situation that the LP intends to cure in 2016. Opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay considers Isabela his bailiwick; his mother is from the province.
“Ang sabi nila para mas buo ang laban sa Isabela kung may head, kung kasama ako kasi they have been doing their own service,” Padaca said, referring to her local allies. (They said the fight in Isabela will be complete if they have their head, [or] if I am with them, because they have been doing their own service.)
Padaca said she “cannot totally dismiss their request” because “if there’s someone who will face [issues] with them, it would still be me.”
Padaca said she is also worried about the entry of “political dynasties” in different Isabela towns.
“Dati ang mga political dynasties, naka-concentrate lang sa mga cities at capital pero ngayon nandun na sila sa kabilang bayan,” Padaca said. (Before, political dynasties [in Isabela] are only concentrated in cities and capital, but they are now in various towns.)
Padaca said the Dys now control 3 or 4 areas. She said some old families are complaining why some prominent politicians “suddenly enter [the landscape] just for the sake of elections."
Padaca first ran in 2001 as representative against then Congressman Faustino Dy III, but she lost by 84 votes.
Her victory in 2004 put an end – albeit temporarily – to the Dy’s decades-long control of the province.
On the graft charges filed against her with the Sandiganbayan, she said they have already submitted "hundreds of boxes" of documents to prove her innocence.
She said it took them almost 3 years to gather these, which include receipts from farmers.
Padaca faces graft and malversation charges in Sandiganbayan for allegedly giving "undue advantage" to a non-governmental organization tapped to manage credit facility for rice farmers in the province. – Rappler.com