Duterte adamant: No to Guanzon!
PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Rodrigo Duterte is prepared to fight it out in the Supreme Court to prevent Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon from participating in the disqualification cases in the poll body against the Davao City mayor.
Duterte’s legal counsel, Vitaliano Aguirre, said they would press their case against Guanzon in the hearings of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division.
“If she takes part in resolving the cases, we will go up to the Comelec en banc… but if the en banc doesn’t restrain her from doing so, we will go to the Supreme Court,” said Aguirre in an interview with reporters on the weekend.
Aguirre reiterated that Guanzon had shown her bias against Duterte in the disqualification case filed against him by broadcaster Ruben Castor, noting that in her dissenting opinion and at the hearing of the case, Guanzon pointed out issues that were not even mentioned in the petition.
He also noted Guanzon’s alleged close ties to Sheila Bazar, the lawyer of another petitioner against the Davao mayor, University of the Philippines Student Council chair John Paulo Delas Nieves.
“If you are biased and very close to one of the parties, to the lawyer, your impartiality is already in question. It is natural to be biased toward your friend and when a relationship is close, you cannot trust yourself for a better judgment,” said Aguirre.
Last week, Duterte filed a petition in the Comelec urging Guanzon to inhibit herself from participating in the disqualification cases against him.
The mayor said Guanzon had shown bias when she was the lone dissenter in the commission’s decision of Dec. 17 accepting his certificate of candidacy (COC).
The mayor’s camp also noted that Bazar and Guanzon had a close association since both were members and founders of the Gender Justice Network.
“They are very close. As a matter of fact, if you read their messages on Facebook, they call each other ‘mare,’” said Aguirre.
“You do not call a friend ‘mare’ unless you are in a close relationship,” he added, noting that one of the conversations on the social media platform supposedly indicated that the two had gotten drunk together. “That shows that they are very close,” he said.
On her Twitter account, Guanzon denied that she and Bazar were “sorority sisters.” “She joined us in the Gender Justice Network but it has been inactive for many years,” said the commissioner.
Duterte is facing four disqualification cases in the Comelec filed by Castor, Delas Nieves, lawyer Eli Pamatong and Rizalito David. All the cases allege that Duterte cannot substitute for Martin Diño, whose COC was defective and invalid.
In his COC filed in October, Diño had indicated that he was running for mayor of Pasay City instead of President under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). His lawyers had argued it was merely a “clerical error.”
Diño withdrew from the presidential race even before the Comelec could declare him a nuisance candidate. PDP-Laban subsequently nominated Duterte as Diño’s replacement.
On Friday, Duterte announced he would not participate in the presidential debate sponsored by the Comelec in Cagayan de Oro City on Feb. 21.
“I have to look for money, that is why I’m travelling,” he told the Inquirer. “I have no time for that, maybe in the future there would be other presidential forums.”
The Comelec earlier announced the holding of three presidential debates in Mindanao, the Visayas and Luzon. The debate in Cagayan de Oro City will be hosted by the Inquirer and television network GMA 7. With a report from Nico Alconaba, Inquirer Mindanao
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