Members of a collegiate body are supposed to influence one another

Section 13 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution states: "The conclusions of the Supreme Court in any case submitted to it for decision en banc or in division shall be reached in consultation before the case is assigned to a Member for the writing of the opinion of the Court." (Emphasis supplied)

The above provision of the Constitution is an example of how collegiate bodies work, especially in courts or in offices and commissions exercising quasi-judicial powers. It is normal -- and frankly, expected -- for members of a collegiate court or body to influence one another. Otherwise, there would be no need for collegiality.

In fact, collegiate bodies are often called and cited as "influence-oriented social system."[1] 

The issue on whether a colleague can influence another was raised due to the recent in-fighting in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), especially between Commissioner Aimee Ferolino and Presiding Commission Rowena Guanzon (First Division).

The COMELEC's internal rules require the same consultation requisite prior to decisions and conclusions. It says: "The conclusions of the Commission in any case submitted to it for decision en banc or in Division shall be reached in consultation before the case is assigned by raffle to a Member for the writing of the opinion of the Commission or the Division and a certification to this effect signed by the Chairman or the Presiding Commissioner, as the case may be, shall be incorporated in the decision. Any Member who took no part, or dissented, or abstained from a decision or resolution must state the reason therefor." [2]

In a letter sent by Comm. Ferolino to the COMELEC Chairman, Sheriff M. Abas, it was pointed out that Comm. Guanzon was trying to influence the ponente (Comm. Ferolino) over the disqualification case against presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos, Jr.

In a report by Businessmirror.com.ph, it is said: "Ferolino, in a three-page letter to Comelec Chairman Sheriff M. Abas, denied Guanzon's accusation that she is deliberately delaying the release of the ruling. The poll official said she did not agree on Guanzon's Jan. 17 deadline and that the presiding official of the Comelec First Division is supposedly trying to influence her decision." (Emphasis supplied)

However, the discussion above in no way means that all actions and statements of Comm. Guanzon are blameless or justified.

[1] https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4003&context=dissertations.

[2] COMELEC Rules of Procedure - Part IV - Rule 18. Approved: 15 February 1993. https://comelec.gov.ph/index.html?r=References/RelatedLaws/RulesOfProcedures/RulesGoverningPleadings/ROPPart4/ROPPart4Rule18.

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