By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Petitioners are calling on the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) First Division to release its decision on the disqualification cases against presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
In a statement, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) expressed that they are deeply disturbed by outgoing Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s revelations “that certain powerful figures are meddling to delay the decision of the First Division” on their petitions to disqualify Marcos Jr.
The group asked Commissioners Aimee Ferolino and Marlon Casquejo to “stand for integrity and vote to disqualify Marcos Jr., and release the decision now.”
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Guanzon last week said that she voted to disqualify Marcos Jr. as she believed that there “is really moral turpitude based on evidence and the law.” Following this, Guanzon released her separate opinion on the case today, Jan. 31.
Guanzon announced the release of her separate opinion in her Twitter account saying that “they” do not want her separate opinion to reach the Supreme Court.”
They do not want my separate Opinion to be part of the records so it will not reach the Supreme Ct. So I will release it today at 2PM @SCPh_PIO
— Rowena Guanzon (@rowena_guanzon) January 31, 2022
In her separate opinion, Guanzon ruled in favor of the petitions and declared Marcos Jr. disqualified from running for president.
Guanzon said that Marcos Jr.’s “repeated and persistent failure to file his income tax returns for 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 constitute an offense involving moral turpitude,” citing section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code.
In her analysis of the evidence presented by Marcos as well as the petitioners, Guanzon said she “found that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Certification issued by RTC Branch 105 officer-in-charge, Judge Sto. Tomas-Bacud must be given more weight.”
Guanzon said that Bacud, as the officer-in-charge is privy to the records and thus in a “position to certified matters that are mandated by the law and the rules to be entered into the records of the court.”
She added that Marcos Jr. also has no proof to show that he has already served his sentence and paid fines to the RTC as imposed in the decision of the Court of Appeals. Guanzon noted the irregularities in this evidence by the Marcos camp saying that the Land Bank of the Philippines official receipt allegedly issued on Dec. 27, 2001 “contained an entry showing that the collection or payment was for a lease rental. It did not bear any other indication as to the nature and purpose of the payment.”
She also said that the official receipt also did not indicate, on its face, “that the payment was for the deficiency taxes payable to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), or fines payable to the RTC.”
Guanzon also said that the BIR certification also “does not state what the certification was for, especially what the payment was for.”
Marcos also “failed to submit any order from Branch 105 directing him to pay the fines and deficiency taxes as directed by the CA,” Guanzon said.
“Between the certification adduced by the petitioners and a set of documents offered by Respondent, which, unfortunately, provides more questions than answers, the former is certainly far more credible,” Guanzon said.
Guanzon also pointed out Marcos must be well-aware of his obligation to file tax returns. She said as a high government official at that time, Marcos had staff to help him on this matter. Therefore, she said, there is no “possible excuse for not exerting the slightest of efforts to comply with what everyone else complies with.”
“Respondent’s repeated violation of the law is reflective of and constitutes an act of baseness in the duties which he owed his fellow Filipinos and his country,” Guanzon said.
No decision yet
Up to the end of this day, Jan. 31, the First Division has not released the decision on the said case despite Guanzon’s ultimatum to Ferolino to release the resolution until noon.
Meanwhile, in a memorandum released also Jan. 31, in response to this, Ferolino asserted that there is no delay in the release of her ponencia and that she is taking time in reviewing case records.
Guanzon also challenged Ferolino to resign before Feb. 3 since the integrity of the Comelec is now in question.
Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines called on Comelec to promptly act on the disqualification case against Marcos Jr. to quell public unease.
In a statement, the IBP said that the tasks of the Comelec do not start on the election day itself but also ensure that “matters pertaining to candidates are resolved with transparency and all deliberate speed.”
“In an election that will choose the leaders who will chart our nation’s course out of the pandemic, this mandate acquires heightened urgency,” the IBP said.
Youth group National Union of Students in the Philippines also said that the Comelec must also prove that the agency will be fair in the decision on the Marcos disqualification case. “We also wholeheartedly give our support to the disqualification vote of Commissioner Rowena Guanzon,” the group said.
Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan also said that Guanzon’s decision to disqualify Marcos is correct. He said that there is an obvious effort to delay the release of the resolution until Guanzon’s retirement and her vote is excluded.
Guanzon retires as Comelec commissioner on Feb. 2.
Meanwhile, CARMMA will hold an action tomorrow, Feb. 1 at the Comelec to call on the First Division to release the decision before Guanzon retires from office. (RTS,RVO)