Comelec

Delayed ruling on Marcos case? Comelec’s Guanzon says she’s not to blame

Dwight de Leon
Delayed ruling on Marcos case? Comelec’s Guanzon says she’s not to blame

RETIRING. Comelec Commissioner Ma. Rowena Guanzon, who is retiring on February 2, 2022, is shown in this file photo from when she attended a Senate hearing on electoral reforms in 2019.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'I cannot control all things, especially if I'm not the one writing the decision,' says Comelec Commissioner Guanzon, in an apparent attempt to pressure the ponente into releasing a ruling on the Marcos case before she retires on February 2

The Filipino public had been waiting for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to rule on high-profile disqualification cases against 2022 presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

However, a promised speedy resolution of the consolidated case in the Comelec’s 1st Division did not become a reality, despite Senior Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s word that a ruling would be released on January 17.

So whose fault was it? For Guanzon, it’s clear: she’s not to blame.

Person, Human, Hand

Guanzon went live on Facebook on Wednesday, January 26, to reveal that she was not the ponente, or the one writing the decision, in the consolidated anti-Marcos petitions filed by Martial Law survivors, party-list group Akbayan, and former officers of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

“I cannot control all things, especially if I’m not the one writing the decision,” Guanzon said in Filipino.

Delayed ruling on Marcos case? Comelec’s Guanzon says she’s not to blame

By process of elimination, the ponente could either be Commissioner Marlon Casquejo or Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, who are both President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees from Davao City. The two are career officials who rose from the ranks after decades of service in the poll body.

Rappler reached out to both commissioners, but they have yet to issue a reply as of posting time.

The Comelec earlier said that a January 17 promulgation of the decision was delayed after some lawyers of the ponente contracted COVID-19. Guanzon echoed that explanation in her Facebook broadcast.

But she also said a significant time had passed since then, and the Comelec’s 1st Division should have come out with a ruling 15 days after the case was submitted for resolution, citing internal policy.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez has yet to confirm whether such an internal rule exists, but some insiders Rappler talked to are wary about that claim.

For instance, the 2nd Division ordered the dismissal of the petition to cancel Marcos Jr.’s candidacy nearly a month after the case was deemed submitted for resolution.

Delayed ruling on Marcos case? Comelec’s Guanzon says she’s not to blame

Even the petition seeking to nullify Marcos Jr.’s candidacy filed by nuisance presidential aspirant Tiburcio Marcos has yet to be decided on, nearly three months since it was filed.

Guanzon’s Facebook broadcast, for one, was her attempt to explain herself to the public. The 1st Division’s presiding commissioner, after all, has become the Comelec’s face for updates on the disqualification case against Marcos.

“I know you won’t believe allegations that I received bribe money just to delay the resolution of the disqualification case of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” said Guanzon, the only remaining appointee of the late former president Benigno Aquino III in the seven-member en banc.

“I want to have a zero backlog by Monday on the cases assigned to me. I hope the Marcos’ disqualification case will not be an exception because it’s my responsibility,” she added.

It is apparent that Guanzon’s speech was an effort to publicly pressure Casquejo or Ferolino into releasing a ruling on the Marcos case before she retires on February 2.

Is it a hint of infighting among the commissioners? If it is, then Casquejo and Ferolino join Chairman Sheriff Abas in the list of en banc members that Guanzon has butted heads with.

In any case, Guanzon claimed she has a separate opinion ready as early as January 17, with her fellow two commissioners in the 1st Division “aware” of how she would vote on the Marcos case.

But is her opinion a concurring or a dissenting one? In favor or against Marcos? Time will tell. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.