Guanzon leaks her vote disqualifying Bongbong Marcos
MANILA, Philippines/BACOLOD CITY — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has revealed that she voted to disqualify Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the upcoming polls.
“My vote is to disqualify Marcos Jr.,” Guanzon disclosed in an exclusive interview with GMA News aired on Thursday evening. “I think there is really a moral turpitude based on the evidence and the law.”
Guanzon is part of the Comelec’s First Division, handling disqualification cases filed against Marcos Jr., who is running for president in the May elections.
Aside from Guanzon, other members of the First Division are Commissioners Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio and Marlon Casquejo.
Ferolino-Ampoloquio is the ponente of the case, Guanzon disclosed in another interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday night. A ponente refers to the person tasked to pen a case or petition a decision.
Guanzon said she had cast her vote since January 17.
Attempt to omit her vote
But Guanzon believes there is political interference in the delay in the release of the decision of the consolidated disqualification cases, referring to some pro-Marcos politicians.
“I believe there is political interference here…it was delayed because they already know my vote. They think if I retire, my vote will not count, which is not true,” Guanzon, who is set to retire on February 2, said in a phone interview with the Inquirer earlier on Thursday.
She insisted that even if the resolution would come out after her retirement, her vote for the disqualification cases would still be counted.
She also said she called up Salvador Panelo, former chief presidential legal counsel and spokesperson, who told her that President Rodrigo Duterte had instructions not to interfere with Comelec.
The disqualification cases were filed against Marcos Jr. by martial law survivors as represented by Bonifacio Ilagan, Akbayan party, and the faction of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) as represented by Abubakar Mangelen.
Marcos Jr. is running for president under PFP, but Mangelen claimed he is the party’s duly elected chairman.
Guanzon presided over the preliminary hearing on the three disqualification cases against Marcos Jr.
After that preliminary conference, the Comelec First Division consolidated the three disqualification cases against the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.. This means that the three petitions will have a joint decision.
The Ilagan and Akbayan petitions were consolidated because both cited in their cases Marcos Jr.’s tax case conviction as a basis to disqualify him from competing in the elections this May. The Mangelen petition, meanwhile, also mentioned Marcos Jr.’s tax case conviction but also called on the poll body to nullify the presidential aspirant’s certificate of nomination and acceptance (Cona) since PFP issued it without his supposed consent. An aspirant needs to file a Cona to prove that his or her candidacy under a certain political party is authorized.
According to Guanzon, it was proven that Marcos Jr. did not pay his taxes for four years when he was governor of Ilocos Norte and was sentenced by a Regional Trial Court to imprisonment and to pay a fine.
He filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals that ordered him only to pay a fine.
Still, she also said, Marcos Jr., did not pay the fine.
Guanzon pointed out that they – Guanzon, Ferolino-Ampoloquio, and Casquejo – agreed that the resolution of the case that was raffled off to the First Division on January 10 would be out in seven days.
But until now, the resolution had not been released by Ferolino-Ampoloquio, she added.
Guanzon said she and Casquejo had been trying to reach Ferolino-Ampoloquio, who was supposed to write the resolution but the commissioner-ponente could not be reached and had not replied to their calls.
“Ferolino[-Ampoloquio] is not sick and her quarantine is over after she said she was a close contact with one of her lawyers who was hit with COVID-19,” Guanzon said.
Guanzon said she had requested Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas to call Ferolino-Ampoloquio.
An option for Ferolino-Ampoloquio was to waive writing the resolution if she could not finish it on time and Casquejo could take over, she also said.
Marcos Jr.’s camp awaits decision, petitioners hopeful
The camp of Marcos Jr. declined to comment on the disclosures of Guanzon and said it is waiting for the Comelec division’s resolution.
“We will wait for the decision to come out and until then, any statements made are all speculative,” Marcos Jr.’s chief of staff and spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez told INQUIRER.net.
Meanwhile, one of the three petitioners who lodged a disqualification case against Marcos Jr. said Guanzon’s vote gave them hope.
“Comm. Guanzon’s vote also gives us hope that there are more voices inside the Comelec that do not believe in, or at the very least, doubt the electoral qualification of Bongbong,” the Akbayan party said in a statement issued later on Thursday night.
It also called on other commissioners to “heed their conscience,” insisting that Marcos Jr. is a “cheater.”
“We call on the other Comelec commissioners, especially the remaining members of the body’s Second Division, to heed their conscience and use Comm. Guanzon’s vote as [a] guide to decide in favor of truth and a fair electoral system,” it said.
“A person, like Bongbong, who insists on participating in our electoral contest, despite not meeting its requirements, is a cheater,” it added.
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