Retired Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon took a swipe at former colleague Aimee Ferolino after the latter was appointed to lead the poll body’s vote-buying task force for the 2022 elections.
Commissioner George Garcia of the Commission on Elections on Wednesday said the sitting en banc has appointed the former Davao del Norte provincial election supervisor as chairperson of poll bureau’s Task Force “Kontra Bigay,” an inter-agency body that will tackle vote-buying complaints.
“Si Commissioner Ferolino ang magpapatawag kaagad ng mga meeting ng task force, mag-da-draft ng necessary additional guidelines at the same time, magpapatupad nitong mandato ng Commission on Elections to either motu proprio or to accept complaints tungkol sa vote buying,” he said to reporters.
The vote-buying task force includes members from the Department of Justice, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine Information Agency, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Ferolino was appointed to head the “Kontra Bigay” initiative due to her background and experience, Garcia said. She is also part of other Comelec committees.
Her appointment prompted a response from Guanzon who reacted after reading reports about it.
The retired commissioner reshared a news report with a nauseated face emoji.
“Ano naman susunod na linyahan, ‘Vote buying is not inherently wrong in the absence of a law punishing it???'” Guanzon quipped in another Facebook post, which has received 18,000 likes and laughing reactions.
“Pera pera,” she also wrote as a comment.
“Ano na, Comm!” Guanzon additionally exclaimed in her post.
She followed it up with, “Ano na, gov!”
Her reactions reached Reddit Philippines on Thursday where screengrabs of her posts have been 100% upvoted.
“They could have picked a better person. No, seriously, they could’ve. Instead, we got stuck with this evil, corrupt c*nt,” a Redditor commented, referring to Ferolino’s appointment.
Guanzon in her Facebook post was referring to the ruling by the Comelec First Division last February, which Ferolino penned, junking the disqualification cases filed against Marcos.
The ruling reads:
“The failure to file tax returns is not inherently wrong in the absence of a law punishing it. The said omission became punishable only through the enactment of the Tax Code. Moreover, even the 1977 NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code) recognizes that failure to file income tax is not a grave offense as the violation thereof may be penalized only by a fine.”
The ruling was referring to the disqualification pleas arguing that Marcos failed to file income tax returns in the 1980s.
Guanzon previously alluded to Ferolino when she claimed that Comelec’s decision on the consolidated disqualification cases was intentionally delayed.
At that time, the senior poll commissioner was about the retire. Her vote against Marcos was not taken into account since the ruling was released after her retirement.
What the anti-vote buying task force will do
The “Konta Bigay” task force will focus on complaints filed before the Commission on Elections.
The Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying, an election offense, as the following:
“Any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”
It is also prohibited to conspire to bribe voters and wager upon the results of the elections.
Those found guilty of committing such offenses would be imprisoned for a minimum of one year but not more than six years.
The anti-vote buying task force was created days after reports of attendees at a “UniTeam” campaign rally in Cavite were given cash prizes by Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla through a talent show.
It happened before presidential bet Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio had arrived.