Daily Tribune : Rowena and BBM DQ (2)

3 February 2022

By Harry Roque | Daily Tribune

Her decision to publicize her vote to disqualify Bongbong Marcos is not judicious. What she did goes against the essence of the collegial body. Collegial signifies equality — having one voice, one stand, although as individual members of the collegial body, they can have different decisions and dissenting opinions.

Davao City Mayor Inday Sara and I rode our motorcycles last 1 February during the kick-off ceremony for Mahalin Natin ang Pilipinas Ride. Unlike Mayor Inday Sara who rides her motorcycle all the time, I rode it for the first time after 20 years. Luckily, I didn’t fall off.

I was moved by the love that the Davaoeños and the Mindanaoans showered upon Mayor Inday Sara and the whole Uniteam as we went around the various regions in Mindanao. I am so grateful to all of them.

Now, please allow me to continue to tackle the controversy regarding the pronouncements of former Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.

Although the five questions I raised in the first part of this article became moot and academic when Rowena Guanzon retired yesterday, 2 February, the answers to them are still valuable from an educational point of view.

To refresh your memory, those five questions are: Firstly, can a commissioner publicize her/his vote even before the division has made its decision? Secondly, was there really an inordinate delay that prompted Commissioner Guanzon to divulge her vote and broadcast it to the whole world? Thirdly, what can be done in this regard? Fourthly, does the fact that Commissioner Guanzon will retire have an effect on the final decision of the division? Finally, was her decision to disclose her vote judicious?

Let me proceed to the succeeding questions.

Ex-commissioner Guanzon ascribed her disclosure of her vote to disqualify Bongbong Marcos from the presidential race to the inordinate delay in the resolution of the disqualification case.

However, her claim was baseless. The ponente informed the chairman of the Comelec that the case was submitted for resolution on 14 January 2022. On 31 January 2022, she was already decrying the so-called delay. Considering that only two weeks and not several months passed after the case was submitted for resolution, Guanzon should not have concluded that there is an inordinate delay. Furthermore, two lawyers of the ponente contracted Covid-19, so at that time she was short-staffed.

What fires up the controversy in relation to the disqualification case against Bongbong Marcos is ex-Commissioner Guanzon’s allegation that a certain senator tried to influence the way she should cast her vote. If she was telling the truth, she should publicize the name of that senator. I pity the other senators who actually never interfered in the disqualification case. We, in the legal profession, naturally know each other, especially if we were classmates in law school. I know Rowena Guanzon. She cannot be influenced by anyone.

Now that she is already retired, her dissenting opinion has become a “piece of paper.” The poll body has not promulgated a decision yet. She should have recognized the fact that unless there is actual promulgation of a decision by the Comelec’s First Division, she cannot register a dissenting opinion. Thus, her dissenting opinion can no longer be part of the final resolution of the case. Her fixed-term precludes her from insisting that her opinion should be a part of the consolidated decision of the First Division even after her retirement.

Clearly, her decision to publicize her vote to disqualify Bongbong Marcos is not judicious. What she did goes against the essence of the collegial body. Collegial signifies equality — having one voice, one stand, although as individual members of the collegial body, they can have different decisions and dissenting opinions.