Daily Tribune : BBM party demands Guanzon disbarment

29 January 2022

By Michelle R. Guillang and Gab Humilde Villegas | Daily Tribune

Lawyer George Briones, PFP’s general counsel, claimed that Guanzon illegally disclosed and leaked with undue haste her vote in a pending disqualification case against Bongbong, his party’s standard-bearer.

The Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) on Friday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate outgoing Commissioner Rowena Guanzon for making public her vote to disqualify presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. from the 2022 elections prior to the official decision.

An “immediate administrative investigation” was called against Guanzon by the PFP for her alleged “violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics and Code of Judicial Conduct before her retirement benefits are released.”

Lawyer George Briones, PFP’s general counsel, claimed that Guanzon “illegally disclosed and leaked with undue haste” her vote in a pending disqualification case against Bongbong, his party’s standard-bearer.

“Because of her premature disclosure or leaking of her yet promulgated dissenting opinion, Commissioner Guanzon should be disbarred, with forfeiture of her retirement benefits and lifetime pension because she destroyed the reputation of the institution where these monies come from,” Briones said.

For Briones, Guanzon should be “disbarred, with forfeiture of her retirement benefits and lifetime pension” for revealing her vote on the disqualification petition against Marcos pending before the Comelec’s First Division.

He also accused Guanzon of being an “incorrigible narcissist” and for allegedly siding with the candidate of the petitioners who filed the disqualification cases against Bongbong.

Guanzon, Comelec’s most senior commissioner, remains unfazed by these threats, however.

She hit back, saying the Comelec En Banc has no jurisdiction over an administrative complaint against a commissioner.

“I am an impeachable officer. You people better study. Let’s debate on TV,” she said in a social media post.

Briones initially agreed to have a televised debate with Guanzon, but later declined after learning that Guanzon is a “Sister Deltan”.

“Since Comm. Guanzon disclosed that I’m her Sigma Rho Frat brother, I respectfully decline her invitation to debate with her,” Briones said.

Guanzon also emphasized that she does not fear getting disbarred as she can opt to “plant sugarcanes.”

To recall, Guanzon disclosed that she voted to disqualify Marcos from the 2022 presidential race due to his tax evasion conviction.

“My vote is to disqualify Marcos Jr. I think there has been moral turpitude based on evidence and the law,” Guanzon asserted.

For Guanzon, Bongbong should be disqualified to run for public office as failing to pay income taxes four times is a crime involving moral turpitude.

While Bongbong’s counsels claimed that the former senator paid his tax deficiency in the Bureau of Internal Revenues, Guanzon noted that the receipt of payment for tax deficiencies they presented were payments for lease rentals.

Guazon also questioned if Bongbong was aware of PFP’s threat while his cases are pending. She warned that because of their attacks, PFP officials may be charged with contempt and sent to the Manila City Jail.

The word war between Guanzon and Bongbong’s party began after the former disclosed her vote on Bongbong’s disqualification cases, believing that resolution on the cases is being deliberately delayed due to “external influence.”

In another interview on Friday, Guanzon claimed that a “senator” could be intervening with the case and influencing the ponente to delay the decision’s promulgation.

Guanzon was not referring to Senator Imee Marcos, sister of Bongbong Marcos. She recalled that they were classmates at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

“She won’t do that. We were classmates. We respect each other,” she said.

Comelec’s 1st Division is composed of three members: Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, Marlon Casquejo, and Guanzon.

She is the lone appointee of the Aquino administration, while Ferolino and Casquejo were both appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte. They are both from the Davao Region.

Guanzon asked Ferolino to submit the resolution so that the First Division can already vote on the case before 2 February, the day she is set to retire.

Former Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and senatorial aspirant Salvador Panelo expressed alarm over the commissioner’s claim that a politician is influencing the Comelec.

“This is outrageous. The Comelec, a constitutional body, should be left alone with its constitutional duty to resolve election cases, on the basis of the evidence and the law,” Panelo said.

“It is unfair for respondent Marcos as well as the petitioner to be hanging in limbo. No documentary and testimonial evidence is required as it is a simple legal issue arising from a previous conviction of Marcos Jr. hence there is a reason for the delay in its resolution,” he added.

Panelo stressed that even President Duterte never interfered with the Comelec’s official functions and asked the poll body to immediately resolve Bongbong’s disqualification cases.

Bongbong’s camp said it would rather wait for the Comelec’s decision to be released.