Macalintal says Guanzon liable for revealing vote to disqualify Bongbong Marcos

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should immediately stop the printing of official ballots for the May elections until it gets clarification from the Supreme Court (SC) on the status of cases where temporary restraining orders (TROs) were issued against the disqualification of nuisance candidates, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal. Photo by Otso Diretso

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon should be sanctioned for prematurely revealing her vote to disqualify Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. prior to the release of the poll body’s decision, seasoned election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said on Friday.

“Until and unless the decision is released to the public, the individual positions or votes or opinions of the commissioners are confidential,” Macalintal told reporters in a text message.

“Since it is highly irregular, Guanzon should be sanctioned by the Comelec en banc for violating the confidentiality of the internal proceedings of the Comelec,” Romulo Macalintal.

Guanzon is the presiding commissioner of the Comelec’s First Division who handles the consolidated disqualification cases filed against Marcos, who is running for president in the May 9 elections.

Aside from Guanzon, other members of the First Division are Commissioner Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio, served as the ponente of the case, and, Commissioner Marlon Casquejo. A ponente refers to the person tasked to pen a case or petition a decision.

Ferolino-Ampoloquio, however, has yet to release her decision on the case.

Macalintal, in a separate statement on Friday, said Guanzon’s vote will not be counted anymore once she retired from being a commissioner.

Guanzon will retire as one of the poll body’s commissioner in February 2.

“If Guanzon retires on February 2 without any decision yet, her aforesaid vote will no longer be counted after such retirement date,” Macalintal said.

“This means that by February 3 Guanzon’s vote will no longer be considered and the Marcos’ case will just be decided by Ampoloquio and Casquejo, unless a new Commissioner is immediately appointed by President Duterte to fill the vacancy created by Guanzon’s retirement from the Comelec. In which case, the new Commissioner will join Ampoloquio and Casquejo to finally decide Marcos’ case in the First Division,” the veteran lawyer added.

Interestingly, Macalintal served as Vice President Leni Robredo’s lead counsel in the electoral protest that the son and namesake of dictator Ferdinand Marcos had filed against her.

The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, had unanimously voted to dismiss Marcos Jr.’s petition against Robredo in February last year.

Guanzon dropped a bombshell on Thursday after she claimed that a “political interference” was causing the delay in the promulgation of the Comelec First Division’s ruling on the three consolidated disqualification cases against Marcos.

She also disclosed that she had voted to disqualify him from participating in the May 9 presidential race because he was convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Marcos was convicted for tax evasion in 1995 due to his failure to pay taxes and file income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.

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