MANILA — Presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Friday urged anew Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon to inhibit from the disqualification cases against him.
In a 28-page Motion for Reconsideration (MR), the local chief executive insisted that the poll body official should not participate in the four cases as she is being suspected of bias and prejudice in coming up with a decision.
“A judge has the duty not only to render a just and impartial decision, but also render it in such a manner as to be free from any suspicion as to its fairness and impartiality, and also as to the judge’s integrity,” said Duterte.
The MR added, “Bias or prejudice may either be factual bias or perceived bias. One type is as bad as the other. Perceived bias arises when a judge’s conduct, behavior, utterances or comments suggest his partiality in favor of a party in a case.”
He believes that Guanzon should inhibit as she met both qualifications for compulsory and voluntary inhibitions as provided by the Comelec Rules of Procedure.
Under the poll body rules, mandatory inhibition is necessary when it is presumed that a commissioner cannot actively and impartially sit in a case; while voluntary inhibition is left to the discretion of the member concerned whether to sit in a case for other just and valid reasons, with their conscience as guide.
“Note that two grounds, one of each kind, were raised by Respondent Duterte in his Motions for Disqualification and/or Inhibition, to wit: a) compulsory disqualification emanating from Commissioner Guanzon’s public expression of prejudgment; and b) voluntary inhibition due to Commissioner Guanzon’s friendship with Atty. Maria Shiela Bazar,” Duterte added.
He pointed out how Guanzon had manifested bias and prejudice against him in her Dissenting Opinion in the Dec. 17 Comelec en banc decision accepting his Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) for president, pointing out some allegations that were not in the petition of broadcaster Ruben Castor.
“Respondent Duterte cannot simply yield to the reasoning of Commissioner Guanzon, especially when a reading of her dissent shows that she was already harboring adverse conclusions with respect to the election documents of Respondent Duterte even in the absence of allegations and issues that Commissioner Guanzon claimed to exist in the Castor Petition,” the MR said.
He questioned how the same allegations that were absent in the Castor petition but present in the dissent of Guanzon can be found in the petition of University of the Philippines (UP) Student Council Chairman John Paulo Delas Nieves.
“As if by some odd coincidence, the allegations made in Commissioner Guanzon’s dissent were found in the later petition filed by Delas Nieves on Dec. 22, five days after the issuance of the en banc resolution. Again, it bears stressing that the lawyer of Delas Nieves in the petition happens to be Bazar,” said Duterte.
As to her relation with Bazar, Duterte said Guanzon failed to convincingly refute allegations of them having a close personal relationship.
He noted how he never raised in his original motion that they are relatives or sorority sisters as denied by Guanzon.
“Commissioner Guanzon’s statement that Bazar is a member of a ‘rival’ sorority in the University of the Philippines and a member of the UP Women Lawyer’s Circle despite not being alleged by Respondent Duterte all the more shows obvious proof of Commissioner Guanzon’s familiarity with Bazar,” said Duterte.
Last Monday, the Comelec First Division junked the petition of Duterte to have Guanzon inhibit from the four disqualification cases for lack of merit in having the latter be obligated to inhibit.
On the other hand, the lady Commissioner also refused to voluntarily inhibit, saying her dissenting opinion should not be taken as she wants to have Duterte’s CoC for president cancelled, and that Bazar is neither her relative nor sorority sister while the Gender Justice Network has long been dormant. PNA / northboundasia.com