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Guanzon bares vote to DQ Marcos, hints 'intervention' delaying release of ruling

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Guanzon bares vote to DQ Marcos, hints 'intervention' delaying release of ruling
This undated file photo shows Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon. Her division at the commission handles three disqualification suits against presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — In an unprecedented move, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon disclosed that she voted to disqualify presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., an announcement made ahead of the promulgation of the poll body’s division ruling on petitions against him.

In an exclusive interview with GMA News’ "24 Oras" on Thursday night, Guanzon said she informed her fellow commissioners of her vote to disqualify Marcos — meaning to grant the consolidated petitions against the presidential aspirant in the 2022 elections — as early as January 17.

But the commissioner said that her vote may have caused a delay in the release of the main ruling, hinting at external forces attempting to influence the Comelec division.

"That’s why this is happening. Because my vote is [to] disqualify Marcos Jr. I think there is moral turpitude based on evidence and the law,” she said in Filipino.

Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code on disqualifications holds that:

Any person who has been declared by competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty.

Petitioners Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party and the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law’s Bonifacio Ilagan cited Marcos’ conviction for failure to file Income Tax Returns for four years.

Among the arguments they raised is whether he is perpetually disqualified from holding public office, whether he was convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, and whether he is perpetually disqualified because of his conviction that carried a penalty of more than 18 months.

Influencing commissioners?

Guanzon did not name who the commissioner assigned to write the main resolution or the ponencia is. But the report stated that other commissioners at the First Division are Aimee Ferolino and Marlon Casquejo.

But in a separate exclusive interview, this time with CNN Philippines, she said Ferolino is the ponente on the case and that they have not been able to contact her in the past three days.

In the days leading up to GMA News' exclusive report, Guanzon went on Facebook Live unannounced twice, on January 19 and 26. In both times, she discussed arguments in the petitions and the processes of the division, but did not state her vote on the case.

“Ang kutob ko talaga may nakikialam na eh. Some people are trying to influence the commissioners. Yan ang ayaw ko,” Guanzon continued in the GMA report.

(My gut feel says there is someone trying to influence [the outcome] Some people are trying to influence the commissioners. That’s what I don’t like.)

She also said a commissioner had even commented that cases raffled after the Marcos Jr. disqualification petitioners had already been resolved.

Guanzon said it might be that the unnamed people would want to have her vote to disqualify invalidated if the promulgation of the main ruling is delayed until she retires on February 2.

But she asserted that that could not happen since she already submitted her draft opinion on the case to all commissioners prior to the day of her retirement.

"That should already be on the record that I voted already. That should be counted and considered by the next presiding commissioner after me," she added.

It is unclear how the unprecedented announcement of Guanzon’s vote would affect the Comelec First Division’s promulgation on its resolution. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez has yet to reply to reporters' questions on this matter.

SC will have last say

Guanzon said she hopes the division resolution is released on Friday or by Monday at the latest. But even if it will be released on January 31, she hinted that it may even be "too late" and it would spell "chaos."

"That’s the last day, that means conflict. I already gave all the chances, I already have all understanding," she added.

The retiring commissioner appealed to the unnamed person, whom she believes is “powerful,” to stop intervening in the case so the division can finally promulgate the resolution.

"Akyat na kayo sa [Supreme Court]. Di dito ang laro, dun matatapos ang laro ninyo," she added.

(Go up to the SC. The showdown is not here [at the Comelec]; the game will be finished at the SC.)

Aside from the three consolidated disqualification suits pending before the Guanzon’s division, Marcos is still facing another petition to cancel his Certificate of Candidacy filed by nuisance candidate Tiburcio Marcos.

Another disqualification suit is also pending before the Second Division.

The petition to cancel COC filed by civic leaders, represented by lawyer Theodore Te, was dismissed by the Second Division, but an appeal was filed earlier this week. Like the disqualification suits pending before the First Division, this plea is also expected to reach the SC.

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