WHAT’S THE RUSH?: Poll exec says colleague may have forgotten sub judice rule

Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino (L) and Commissioner Rowena V. Guanzon

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino asked the poll body to review the appearance of fellow Commissioner Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon before various media outlets and in social media sites in relation to the disqualification case against presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

In a letter to Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas dated Jan. 28, 2022, Ferolino said Guanzon may have forgotten the Sub Judice Rule.

Sub judice is a Latin term which refers to matters under or before a judge or court; or matters under judicial consideration. In essence, the sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings. The restriction applies to litigants and witnesses, the public in general, and most especially to members of the bar (lawyers) and the bench (judges).

Ferolino also noted that Guanzon’s public statements exposed her (Ferolino) to public pressure being the ponente or the one assigned to draft the decision on the Marcos disqualification case.

“Her (Guanzon) excitement and eagerness have taken over her that she may have forgotten the Sub Judice Rule. Also, please take into consideration that Commissioner Guanzon, with pleasure and agitation disclosed to the public that I am the Ponente of the Marcos case. Her disclosure will expose me to possible pressure from different personalities and organizations and will pose a threat to my safety and security,” she said.

Ferolino, who hails from Davao region, also accused Guanzon of influencing her workflow and decision on the disqualification case against Marcos Jr.

Ferolino, Guanzon, and Commissioner Marlon Casquejo compose the Comelec’s First Division which handles Marcos’ disqualification case.

Earlier, Guanzon said she is wondering what is taking Ferolino too long to write and release the decision on the case despite their purported agreement to wrap up the case by Jan 17, 2022.

Guanzon, who voted to disqualify Marcos, also alleged that a powerful politician is interfering in the case.

In a letter to Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas dated Jan. 28, 2022, Ferolino said “there was no internal agreement between and among the First Division Commissioners that the promulgation of the resolution on the Marcos case is set on 17 January 2022.”

“It was the Presiding Commissioner herself who set that date and imposed the same upon me and Commissioner Marlon Casquejo,” Ferolino added.

Apart from the date of promulgation, Ferolino said that Guanzon told her to adopt the latter’s opinion disqualifying Marcos from the presidential race for tax evasion.

“She also consistently took liberties in telling me to adopt her opinion. It is quite appalling that Commissioner Guanzon was able to draft an opinion when the Ponencia has not yet submitted the resolution and all the case records are in my possession. She even issued a Memorandum incorporating her separate opinion on a resolution that is yet to be released. The Presiding Commissioner (Guanzon) of the First Division is putting the cart before the horse to justify her demands. In doing so, one thing is clear to me, she is trying to influence my decision and trying hard to persuade me to her direction. But I am not like her, not even close. I did not read her separate opinion as I do not want my judgment to be influenced by her opinion nor other people’s opinion.”

Ferolino also blamed Guanzon for the “delay” in the resolution of the case as the latter wanted to personally join the preliminary conference that must be aired on Facebook Live.

“…The unavailability of the resolution after TWELVE (12) DAYS when the last pleading was forwarded to our office is not undue delay. If there is really a delay, it was the setting of the case for preliminary conference. The preliminary conference could have been set on an earlier date. But the same could not be done to accommodate the Presiding Commissioner’s caprices. The schedule of the proceeding was adjusted in time for her arrival in Manila because she wanted to personally take part in the proceeding and that it be broadcasted live on Facebook,” she added.

Ferolino insists that her office is “well within the timelines, and well within the bounds of the rules.” But the 15-day period given to the Ponencia or commissioner who will write the decision “is applicable only to a single case,” and the same period “cannot be applied to consolidated cases like the Marcos case, hence there is still reasonable time for my office to craft an impartial resolution of a complex and highly rated case.”

“Why rush, when this Commission decides cases on the merits and not for publicity or to accommodate and please anybody or somebody. This case should be treated as any other cases before the Commission where the resolutions are carefully studied, reviewed, and thought of.”

In a radio interview over the weekend, Guanzon, who hails from Negros Occidental, said she will not reveal the name of the “influential and powerful” senator believed to be behind the delay in the release if the resolution is issued today, Jan 31, 2022.

“I am giving them until Monday. Release the resolution and I will not reveal the name. Just release the resolution,” Guanzon told dwIZ.

But she clarified that she was not to referring to Marcos Jr’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos.

Guanzon is set to retire on Wednesday, February 2, after serving seven years as a member of the Comelec.