Comelec

Comelec’s Ferolino counters, channels Guanzon: ‘I am not your subordinate’

Dwight de Leon
Comelec’s Ferolino counters, channels Guanzon: ‘I am not your subordinate’
Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino writes the same words used by Commissioner Rowena Guanzon against then-elections chief Andres Bautista six years ago

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Aimee Ferolino took a page from Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s playbook, using the same words from the poll veteran when she was embroiled in a highly controversial rift with then-Comelec chairman Andy Bautista six years ago.

“I would like to echo your words addressed to then-chairman Andy Bautista, ‘I am not your subordinate’ because we are co-equal,” Ferolino told Guanzon in a reply to the memorandum sent by Guanzon’s office on Saturday, January 29.

Guanzon, presiding commissioner of the First Division, wanted Ferolino to formally explain the prolonged release of the ruling on the disqualification case against 2022 presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Guanzon believes Ferolino, the ponente or writer of the ruling, was deliberately delaying the release of the resolution until after Guanzon steps down on February 2, so that her vote to disqualify Marcos Jr. will be invalidated.

Comelec’s Ferolino counters, channels Guanzon: ‘I am not your subordinate’

Guanzon is facing a scenario slightly similar to 2016, although at the time, she was on the receiving end of a memo.

Then-chairman Bautista formally asked her to explain why she filed with the Supreme Court an unauthorized comment on the petition of presidential aspirant Grace Poe, whose candidacy the Comelec nullified.

“I must emphasize that as a Commissioner, I am not a subordinate or employee of chair Bautista and he has not administrative supervision or control over me,” Guanzon said back then.

Not delayed?

In the reply letter obtained by Rappler from a reputable source, Ferolino accused Guanzon of conditioning the minds of the public into thinking that a ruling has been delayed.

“As a co-equal member of this Commission, I am asking you to please stop conditioning the minds of the people that there is a delay because there is none,” Ferolino said.

Ferolino has been the subject of vitriol online, with netizens speculating on why she could not commit to a promulgation of the ruling before Guanzon leaves the Comelec.

Watchdogs and groups have also joined Guanzon in urging Ferolino to decide on the case as soon as possible.

“If she just wrote the resolution instead of spending time writing to Chairman [Sheriff Abas], she’d be finished by now,” Guanzon said in Filipino on Monday morning, referring to the letter Ferolino sent to Abas which decried Guanzon’s actions.

But Ferolino said Guanzon imposed a timeline that was not only difficult to meet, but also didn’t have her approval.

For one, Ferolino said the case was deemed for resolution on January 14, not January 10.

“When I learned on Twitter that you set the date of promulgation on January 17, and it will be broadcasted on Facebook, I honestly told you that my ponencia is not yet available. Yet you told me that I and my lawyers should work 24 hours and “walang tulugan” (not sleep) to finish it,” Ferolino said.

No resolution was released on January 17, as lawyers of Ferolino contracted COVID-19.

But Guanzon said a significant amount of time has passed since, enough for Ferolino to issue her ruling.

Ferolino, however, reiterated in her reply letter to Guanzon that she needed more time, as she is handling three petitions consolidated into one.

“I am judiciously scrutinizing all the attached evidence and [understanding] the substance of these documents so that these will be rightfully appreciated in the process of penning the ponencia,” Ferolino said.

Aside from Guanzon and Ferolino, Marlon Casquejo is also a member of the First Division. He has remained silent on the Comelec drama up to now.

Casquejo and Ferolino both hail from Davao and are appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte. They rose from the Comelec ranks after decades of service.

Guanzon, meanwhile, was an audit commissioner prior to then-president Benigno Aquino III’s decision to appoint her to the Comelec.

Guanzon has also floated the claim that a politician was trying to influence Ferolino’s decision on the Marcos case, but Guanzon denied that she was referring to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Ferolino said the accusations are damaging the Comelec’s reputation.

“I am asking you to spare the commission from all these controversies because you are destroying the credibility of the agency which you claimed to have previously served with integrity and candor,” she said. – Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers the House of Representatives and the Commission on Elections for Rappler. Previously, he wrote stories on local government units.