Guanzon votes to disqualify Marcos; says ‘powerful politician’ may be behind case delay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27)— Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Thursday revealed she voted to disqualify Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos from the 2022 presidential race.

Guanzon — the presiding officer of the First Division handling the consolidated petitions against Marcos — disclosed her vote in an interview with CNN Philippines.

"Ang desisyon ko, ang boto ko, disqualified talaga siya. Kasi convicted siya of a crime involving moral turpitude," Guanzon told News.PH.

"Apat na taon siyang hindi nag file ng income tax return, hindi siya nagbayad ng buwis. At hindi siya nagbayad ng multa sa Regional Trial Court," she added.

[Translation: My decision, my vote, is that he is really disqualified. Because he's convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. He did not file his income tax return, he did not pay taxes. He did not pay fines in the Regional Trial Court.]

Guanzon also argued that Marcos’ camp has not produced a certified copy of its claim that the former senator already settled his tax deficiencies.

Nung sinuri po ng mga abogado, doon sa xerox copy, nakalagay doon payment of lease rental. Ano ba ‘yan, pinapalusutan niyo pa kami? Siyempre susuriin namin ‘yang mga ebidensiya. Bakit niyo fine-fake?” she continued.

[Translation: When our lawyers examined it, the xerox copy showed payment of lease rental. What’s this, you’re trying to put one over on us? Of course, we’re going to look at the evidence. Why did you fake it?]

The votes of two other commissioners in the First Division have not yet been revealed. At least one more member must have a similar vote to formalize the division's decision.

The ponente — Commissioner Aimee Ferolino — earlier said she cannot comment on the matter as it "might be against the sub judice rule." CNN Philippines has also reached out to Commissioner Marlon Casquejo but has yet to receive a response.

Powerful politician behind the delay?

The division had targeted to release the decision on the three disqualification cases against Marcos by Jan. 17. But it faced delays as the ponente was not yet ready due to COVID-related issues.

READ: Guanzon explains delayed Marcos DQ case decision, eyes release in a week

Guanzon labeled the excuse as “unreasonable.”

“This has never happened before, in a disqualification case involving a presidential aspirant. The resolution is hijacked by the ponente,” the commissioner said, arguing that such decision can be written in a matter of hours.

She also said that Ferolino cannot be contacted for three to four days already.

Pressed further about the delay, Guanzon said she has a “strong feeling” that a politician may have interfered in the case.

“Powerful politician,” Guanzon said, but did not drop names.

Ayan lang ang appeal ko sa kanya, umatras na kayo. Huwag na kayo makialam dito. Ang presidente nga hindi nakikialam eh, kayo pa?

[Translation: That’s my only appeal, back off. Don’t intervene. Even the president is not interfering.]

Marcos is facing a string of petitions challenging his presidential bid in the May elections.

Last week, the Comelec Second Division junked for lack of merit a petition of civic leaders which sought to cancel his certificate of candidacy. A plea looking to declare the son and namesake of the late dictator a nuisance bet was also earlier dismissed.

LIST: Petitions against Bongbong Marcos' 2022 presidential bid

CNN Philippines' Melissa Lopez and Alyssa Rola contributed to this report.