MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Rowena Guanzon did not commit a crime in leaking her decision in favor of disqualifying Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., a lawyer said on Saturday.
Professor and dean of Far Eastern University-Institute of Law Mel Sta. Maria said Guanzon did not violate the Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) which stated that any person who maliciously publish or cause to be published any official resolution or document without proper authority, or before they have been published officially shall be punished by arresto mayor.
“Commissioner Guanzon surely is a very daring public officer. Some may criticize her for what she did in her revelation BUT I believe she did not commit any crime,” Sta. Maria said in a Facebook post.
Guanzon, who serves as the presiding commissioner of the Comelec’s First Division that handles the three consolidated cases to stop Marcos Jr.’s presidential bid, revealed in a television interview on Thursday that she voted to disqualify the son and namesake of the late dictator.
Sta. Maria noted that Guanzon’s revealing of her vote via television or radio will not count as publishing as contemplated by RPC, adding that a “dissenting opinion” is not a document and a resolution to be released by proper authority.
The lawyer also pointed out that there is no law prohibiting the release of a dissenting opinion if a majority opinion has not yet been published.
“IF at all, it is only a long-followed tradition, but not a law,” Sta. Maria noted.
Sta. Maria also said that while some would say that Guanzon’s move may be “imprudent”, it could not be equated to malice.
“She was motivated by a desire to serve the public as far as she is concerned, a matter of national interest,” the lawyer added.
Sta Maria’s legal opinion differs from that of veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who said that Guanzon could be liable for prematurely revealing her vote to disqualify Marcos Jr.