Retired Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner and party-list congresswoman-elect Rowena Guanzon on Friday said she would join the minority bloc in the House of Representatives to push for bigger government
funds for persons with disabilities and Filipinos suffering from chronic illnesses.
“I will join the minority just to make sure that the budget of these government agencies… that the persons with disabilities and those with chronic illnesses will get our fair share in the government budget of government agencies especially Health, PAGCOR, DSWD, and PhilHealth, of course,” Guanzon said in an ANC Interview.
Guanzon of the party-list P3WD noted that joining the minority will allow her to join various committees in the House of Representatives, such as the committees on health, social services, electoral reform, and the powerful appropriations panel.
“Now, I am going to Congress in the minority so I can be in all these committees and they’ll know that I’m in business,” she said.
Nevertheless, Guanzon said her colleagues will “always treat” her as a minority.
“My objective nga is to usig, fiscalize the government agencies that are holding money that the PWDs must have a share in. E kung majority ako I have to defend the budget of the DOH but of course internally, you can also negotiate that,” he noted.
Guanzon further stated that being in the minority is “a brave thing to do” when asked what will be the prospect of the bloc under the presidency of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Although she was seen in a meeting with House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Guanzon explained that it does not show either an expression of support or opposition to the Leyte solon’s speakership bid.
Romualdez, Marcos’ cousin, is poised to be the next speaker of the House.
In the 19th Congress, Guanzon said she will prioritize social pensions for PWDs as well as the strengthening of PhilHealth coverage to Filipinos dealing with disabilities or chronic diseases.
Apart from this, the incoming party-list representative said she will propose a law that will mandate the local government units to allocate 5% of the localities’ total income for PWD concerns.
On the other hand, Guanzon maintained that there is no ethical issue in her substitution as first nominee of P3PWD Party-list, explaining that she did not take part in the registration process of the party-list group during her time as commissioner of the Commission on Elections.
“There is no ethical issue here. I was not the commissioner who granted the registration of the P3PWD. It was in the Second Division of Commissioner Socorro Inting, now the acting chair,” she said.
“It never reached the [Comelec] en banc because it was granted at the division level,” she added.
Guanzon also noted that she joined the party-list group only after she retired from her post in the poll body.
She reiterated that her “oppositors” were doing this for “personal grudges,” adding that the law provides rules for substitution after a party-list group wins a seat and there is a vacancy in the list of nominees.
Section 8 of the Party-List System Act states that “[n]o change of names or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the same shall have been submitted to the COMELEC except in cases where the nominee dies, or withdraws in writing his nomination, becomes incapacitated in which case the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list.”
Guanzon also cited other cases where the Comelec allowed the substitution of nominees in several party-list groups such as Marino, Anakalusugan, SAGIP, and Agimat.
The former poll commissioner even noted that there might be legal issues in the substitution of Atty. Rodante Marcoleta, who dropped his 2022 senatorial bid, as SAGIP party-list representative.
“In the case even of Marcoleta who had an issue because he ran for senator but he withdrew. He withdrew because he knew already that he was going to substitute. His intention was to substitute in hisparty-list. That is an issue,” she noted.
“There is no legal issue with my substitution but in Marcoleta’s case, there was a legal issue, you see? And you can take that up to the Supreme Court if you have standing,” she added.
Guanzon clarified that she is not against the policy of substitution of party-list nominees policy per se, reiterating that she only opposed the substitution bid of now-National Youth Commission chairman Ronald Cardema in Duterte Youth Party-list because the latter is already “overaged.”
With the ongoing quarrel between the two, Guanzon said she lodged several cases against Cardema, including a case of threat as she claimed that the NYC chairman threatened to shoot her in the head.
“He threatened me. He said that in a duel, he will…he used the word headshot. That he will shoot me in the head. I am filing a case against him for threat next week,” Guanzon said.
“I’m also filing next week a complaint in the Ombudsman for violation of the code of ethics. I’m also filing against him a million-peso suit in Bacolod for damages to my honor and my reputation,” she added.
Earlier this week, Guanzon filed cyberlibel and unjust vexation cases against Cardema at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office.
On the other hand, Cardema asked the Supreme Court to stop Comelec from issuing a Certificate of Proclamation to Guanzon and order the House of Representatives to refrain from allowing Guanzon and the substituting nominees to “illegally” assume post while the case is pending.
In a press briefer released Thursday by acting Comelec spokesperson Rex Laudiangco, the Comelec en banc denied Duterte Youth’s complaint against the substitution of Guanzon as first nominee of P3PWD party-list.
On Thursday, Guanzon took her oath of office before Court of Appeals Justice Edwin Sorongon.
In a Facebook live later that day, the former commissioner said the petition filed by Cardema and Duterte Youth Rep. Ducielle Marie Cardema’s petition to block the issuance of certificate of proclamation to Guanzon were already “moot.”
“The issue of opposing my substitution is now moot because I have already taken my oath and I will assume office after 12 noon of June 30, 2022,” Guanzon said.
But in a statement, Rep. Cardema said Guanzon’s oath taking is “another mockery of the law and of our government institutions” if she does not have a certificate of proclamation with the former poll official’s name and the approving signatures of the Comelec en banc.