‘Study well:’ Guanzon tells Topacio’s group on graft complaint vs her

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) – Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon is unfazed by the graft complaint filed by the group of lawyer Ferdinand Topacio before the Office of the Ombudsman over the disclosure of her vote on the disqualification case against President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“Tell them to study well. I sued F(erdinand) Topacio in Bacolod RTC (Regional Trial Court). He pleaded not guilty to the crime of unjust vexation. So he has a personal grudge against me,” Guanzon said in a text message.

The Citizen’s Crime Watch (CCW) accused Guanzon of violating Section 3(k) of RA 3019 Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for “divulging valuable information of a confidential character… to unauthorized persons or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date.”

The group also said Guanzon should be held liable for discussing the contents of her separate opinion and the identification of Commissioner Aimee Ferolino as the ponente or writer of the resolution.

“Prior to the formal promulgation of the resolution on a pending case wherein the Comelec exercises quasi-judicial powers, the name of the ponente, the deliberations of the members of the division as well as the vote of any member including the draft or final written resolution by any member constitutes valuable privileged information,” Topacio and CCW president Diego Magpantay said in their complaint.

In an interview days before retirement, Guanzon revealed that she had voted to disqualify Marcos from the presidential race on the ground of previous conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Guanzon went on to claim that the resolution of the case is being intentionally delayed, rendering her vote moot as she is set to retire before the division could come out with its decision.

The Comelec First Division released its resolution on February 10, a week after she retired.

Topacio’s group also wanted Guanzon charged with violation of Section (7) in relation to Section 11 of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for disclosure and misuse of confidential information; and Article 229 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines for revelation of secrets by a public official.