Duterte camp blasts Comelec commissioner

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

First, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon drew flak from the camp of Senator Grace Poe over the allegedly unauthorized filing of the Comelec's response to Poe's appeal of the cancellation of the latter's candidacy for President.

Now, Guanzon is drawing flak from the camp of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as well.

The feud between Guanzon and Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista over the cancellation of Poe's candidacy for President was barely over when the camp of Duterte, who is also running for President, assailed Guanzon's impartiality.

Lawyers Vitaliano Aguirre and Al Agrosino filed the motion for Guanzon's inhibition Tuesday. They alleged Guanzon's closeness to the legal counsel of one of those seeking Duterte's exclusion from the presidential race.

The two lawyers spoke to media to show photos of Guanzon and lawyer Shiela Bazar from their days at the Gender Justice Network.

Aguirre said that aside from the closeness of Guanzon and Bazar, Guanzon may have also prejudged the Duterte case in questioning the notarization of Duterte's certificates of candidacies, which is also being cited by Bazar in the John Paul Delas Nieves petition.

"Ang mga huwes, dapat magpakita ng cold neutrality of an impartial judge," Agrosino said.

Bazar quickly refuted the claims.

"I have been practicing law for 15 years. Sino-sino lang ba ang women's rights lawyers sa bansang ito? Hindi pwede magpa-picture? No, hindi kami close. Lahat naman 'mare lahat. Kami 'mare sa Gender Justice Network. It's a very wide network nationwide of women's rights lawyers."

Bazar also defended her use of the argument against the notarization of Duterte's certificates of candidacy. "It was raised as one of the facts, not one of the main arguments. How would you connect that to two people knowing each other?"

Delas Nieves has cried foul over the death threats received by him and his loved ones since he went on a crusade against Duterte.

But Aguirre twitted Delas Nieves, "Alam naman niyo, although si Mayor Duterte matapang na tao, mahigit 30 taon kalaban niya si Nograles sa Davao. Nasaktan ba ang mga Nograles sa Davao samantalang for 30 years magkakalaban sila? Nagpapakuwan lang iyun. Bakit 'di siya magdemanda? Mahilig siya magsasalita, kay bata-bata pa niya. Di ko malaman saan niya kinukuha facts niya."

During the hearing on Tuesday, the Comelec's first division told the camps of Delas Nieves, Elly Pamatong and Rizalito David to file their memoranda on their respective petitions by Friday.

They all assail the validity of Duterte's substitution of Martin Dino as PDP-Laban presidential candidate.

David's lawyer, Manuelito Luna, said their case argues Duterte's nomination for mayor of Davao by a local party remains valid so he is covered by the prohibition against running for 2 positions at the same time.

The other petitions assail the validity of Dino's COC, where the fine print states he is running for Pasay City mayor.