Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Aimee Ferolino has accused Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of trying to influence her in the disqualification case against presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
According to a copy of a letter she sent to Comelec Chairperson Sheriff Abas and obtained by GMA News' Joseph Morong, Ferolino answered Guanzon's accusations that she, as the ponente in the Marcos case, had been delaying its resolution.
Ferolino said Guanzon's revelation that she had been tasked to draft the resolution on the case had opened her to pressure from different personalities and organizations.
She denied that there was an internal timeline within which the division was to decide on the Marcos case, as Guanzon said.
"In all honesty Chair, it was not only the date of the promulgation that she imposed upon me. She also consistently took liberties in telling me to adopt her opinion," Ferolino said in her letter to Abas.
"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 added.
Sought for comment, Guanzon pressed Ferolino on releasing her resolution on the Marcos disqualification case.
"Ilalabas na po ba ninyo Commissioner Ferolino ang inyong resolusyon, ang ponencia bago ako mag-retire?" Guanzon said.
"Kasi 'yun lang naman ang pinagdidiskusyunan natin dito eh. Kung nilabas mo na 'yan eh di wala na sana tayong pinag-uusapan dito," she added.
On Twitter, Guanzon said, "She has time to write a reply to the Chair but not the resolution/decision."
Ferolino said Guanzon even issued a memorandum incorporating her separate opinion on a resolution that is yet to be released.
"The Presiding Commissioner 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," Ferolino said.
"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," she added.
On Friday, Guanzon asked Ferolino to submit by January 31 a written explanation for the delay in the release of the resolution on the case.
According to Guanzon, she was earlier informed that Ferolino would not be able to submit her ponencia on January 17 after the lawyer assigned to study the case contracted COVID-19.
She said that the lawyer has since recovered and Ferolino was no longer in isolation.
“Further, on 24 January 2022, I sent you several text messages asking you to finish your ponencia as agreed upon, or waive the drafting of the decision in favor of Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo. You refused to avail the latter option,” Guanzon said in a memorandum addressed to Ferolino.
“I have no other conclusion than that you are deliberately delaying the release of your ponencia until after I retire in order to defeat my vote. This way, my separate opinion will not be attached to the majority resolution and will not form part of the records,” she added.
In her letter to Abas, Ferolino denied there was an undue delay in the resolution of the case.
"If there really [was] a delay, it was [in] setting the preliminary conference," she said, adding it was not held at an earlier date to accommodate Guanzon'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," Ferolino said.
Ferolino said her office was within the timelines and well within the bounds of the rules in resolving the case.
"The period of 15 days given to the ponencia to draft a resolution is applicable only to a single case, 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," she added.
"Rest assured that in crafting the resolution, my office is doing its best so that the commission will not be placed in a bad light and will be given the respect it deserves."
Guanzon, meanwhile, asked Ferolino if she had been influenced by a senator to delay the release of the resolution.
“Uulitin ko. Kahit ano pa ang boto niya basta ilabas niya ang ponencia reso niya (I repeat, regardless of her vote, she should release her ponencia) before I retire so I can vote. Anyway the loser will file a motion for reconsideration,” Guanzon said in a separate statement.
“She is delaying it so that my vote will not be counted after February 2 because she has been influenced one way or the other,” she added. —with a report from Richa Noriega/NB/VBL/KG, GMA News