THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has reminded all candidates in the just-concluded elections, including President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and incomnig Vice President Leni Robredo, to file their statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCEs) on time or face sanctions.
Deadline for submission of SOCE is on June 8.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista made the call over the weekend, saying that all candidates are required by law to submit a SOCE, warning that non-compliance constitutes a mockery of elections laws.
The law provides that violators may be prevented from assuming his post, and at worse, face perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Bautista also pointed out that regardless of the results of elections, whether one had won or lost, or even if the candidates or parties concerned did not receive any contribution or incurred any expenditure, they should still submit their SOCEs reflecting such fact.
“The Comelec would now strictly enforce its finance rules, Bautista added.
Earlier, Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, head of the Comelec Campaign Finance Office, reminded candidates to fill all the required information because an incomplete SOCE shall be deemed not submitted.
“It’s non-extendable. If you fail to file it by June 8, it’s considered not filed,” he added.
“We want to exact compliance. We want candidates to really take it seriously because their impression for the longest time was that the Comelec has not been enforcing finance rules. And they think that they can just get away with it and can always run again in the next term,” Lim further said.
The legal basis for requiring candidates and political parties to submit “full, true and itemized” SOCEs is Section 14 of Republic Act 7166. It provides that all candidates and treasurers of political parties are required to file their SOCEs.
“No person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures…” the law stated.
It added: “For the commission of a second or subsequent offense under this section, the administrative fine shall be from P2,000 to P60,000, in the discretion of the Commission. In addition, the offender shall be subject to perpetual disqualification to hold public office.”
Non-submission of SOCE also carries with it an administrative fine as per Comelec Resolution No.9939.
Under said resolution, national parties and candidates for senatorial positions will be fined P30, 000 for first offense and P60,000 for second offense.
On the other hand, candidates for House of Representatives, city mayors and city vice-mayors will be fined P20,000 for first offense and P40, 000 for second offense, while municipal mayors, municipal vice-mayors and municipal councilors will be fined P10, 000 for first offense and P20,000 for second offense.
Winning candidates who overspent during the campaign period may also be removed from office even if they have already assumed office.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL