MANILA (UPDATE)— A day before Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon retires, various groups gathered in front of the poll body’s main office in Manila to show support for her vote to disqualify Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from the 2022 presidential race.
More than 70 members of BAYAN, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) and youth groups urged the Comelec First Division to release its decision on the disqualification cases against Marcos Jr. on Tuesday.
One of the petitioners, Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresta (SELDA) Vice Chairperson Danilo dela Fuente asked Commissioner Aimee Ferolino to vote to disqualify Marcos and release the decision.
“Commissioner, nananawagan ako sa inyo, magdesisyon na kayo. I-submit na ninyo ang inyong resolusyon para maisama ang decision ni Commissioner Guanzon. Pag di naisama ‘yun, malalagay sa basura ‘yun. Di makikita ng taumbayan na si Commissioner Guanzon ay isang tapat na commissioner ng Comelec,” Dela Fuente said.
(Commissioner, I am calling on you to make a decision. Submit your resolution so Commissioner Guanzon's decision could be included. If it's not included, it will go to the trash. The people won't see that Commissioner Guanzon was a faithful commissioner of Comelec.)
He then continued, “Kami na kumakatawan sa mga bumoto noong vice presidential run ni Marcos Jr. na natalo siya, unang una rin kaming mababalewala. Ang kanilang ginagawa ay para matabunan ang kasalanang pagsisinungaling, pagnanakaw at pagpatay.”
(We who voted during the vice presidential run where Marcos lost, we were also the first ones to be ignored. What they did was to sweep all the sins of lying, stealing, and killing under the rug.)
Dela Fuente said the delay in the release of Ferolino’s ponencia would mean Marcos Jr. can continue with his campaign..
“Kami, ako bilang isang petitioner ay naninindigan na kailangan i-disqualify si Marcos sa pagtakbo bilang pangulo ng bansa. Ang pangulo dapat tapat. Si Marcos ay hindi tapat. Siya ay ‘di nagbayad ng buwis,” he said.
(We, I, as a petitioner insist that Marcos be disqualified from running as the president of the country. The president should be honest. Marcos is not honest. He did not pay taxes.)
The groups also expressed concern over Guanzon’s allegation that a certain senator was behind the delay in the release of the decision.
Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Elago alleged there was an effort to delay the release of the resolution until Guanzon’s retirement so her vote would be excluded.
“Nananawagan kami sa Comelec First Division na ilabas na ang desisyon bago magretiro si Commissioner Guanzon. Dapat isama ang kanyang boto hinggil dito. Huwag natin hayaan ang kahit anumang banta sa independence ng Comelec,” Elago said.
(The Kabataan Party-list is watching this election and it will fight all threats to the independence of the commissioners' work. We call on the Comelec First Division to come out with the decision before Commissioner Guanzon retires. Her vote on this matter should be included. Let's not ignore threats against the Comelec's independence.)
She went on, “Hindi tayo nakakalimot ng kasaysayan at di tayo bulag sa nangyayari sa kasalukuyan. Ayaw natin sa umaabuso sa kapangyarihan, sa magnanakaw, sa sinungaling. Kung may kinalaman na krimen ang kandidato, dapat hindi na ito makaparticipate sa Halalan 2022.”
(We have not forgotten history, and we are not blind to what's happening in the present. We don't want people who abuse power, thieves, or liars. If a candidate has something to do with a crime, then they shouldn't participate in the 2022 Elections.)
BAYAN Secretary-General Renato Reyes, meanwhile, urged the Comelec to prove that they will be fair in the decision on the Marcos disqualification cases and conduct an investigation into allegations of interference at the agency to avoid public distrust.
“Ang persistent na alegasyon na may senador na nangingialam sa proseso, at senador itong nakaupo sa kasalukuyan. Bakit hindi yan iniimbestigahan ng Comelec? Malaki ang epekto niyan sa integridad ng eleksyon,” Reyes said. “At kung malaki ang epekto niyan sa integridad ng Comelec, paano tayo makakatiyak na magiging credible ang May elections?“
(The persistent allegation that there is a senator meddling in the process, and this is a senator who's currently seated in office. Why won't the Comelec investigate that? That has a big effect on the integrity of the elections. If this has a big effect on the Comelec's integrity, how can we make sure that the May elections will be credible?)
Recently, Guanzon revealed that she is voting in favor of disqualifying Marcos Jr., as the former senator’s tax offenses, which he was convicted of, constituted moral turpitude.
Guanzon also noted that Marcos' non-filing of ITRs caused harm to public interest. According to her, a senator influenced fellow Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino to delay the release of the resolution of the consolidated disqualification petitions against the presidential frontrunner.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, however, said the supposed delay "is nothing out of the ordinary".
“It’s really hard for me to characterize this as a delay because you’re looking at a case that’s actually three consolidated cases … it has even happened before that disqualification cases are resolved after the candidate has already won," he told ANC.