Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to withdraw their decision ordering the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the House of Representatives to unseat the 422 erring candidates for failure to submit their “correct” Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).
Macalintal cited the admission of the poll body that a failure to secure SOCE does not constitute administrative liabilities for elected officials under Comelec Resolution 9834.
“The Comelec should now recall its previous order directing some elected officials with alleged defective SOCEs to vacate their posts in view of its recent issuance of Comelec Resolution 9834 clarifying that the penalty of fine imposed upon these erring officials or candidates does not constitute the administrative fine under Section 14 of RA [Republic Act] 7166 and does not make him/her administratively liable for violation of Section 14 of RA 7166,” Macalintal said.
However, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez explained that Resolution 9834 tackles only the administrative liabilities and “not on the order to temporarily vacate their posts.”
“It does not have anything to do with the order of the commission for them to correct
first the imperfections of their occupation of their offices, which is having invalid SOCEs,” Jimenez emphasized, adding that “late penalties” is different from the “administrative fine” in filing the SOCEs from the mid-term polls.
Citing Section 14 of the Republic Act 7166, Macalintal said that “there is no more violation of the SOCE rules under Section 14 of RA 7166, which could be the basis to remove or order an elected official to vacate his post”
Under section 14 of RA 7166, no person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures required—a failure to file “correct” SOCE does not make the candidates administratively liable for violation of the said law.
On December 12, Comelec asked the DILG and the House of Representatives to order 422 elected officials with SOCE deficiencies to “temporarily step down.”
On Monday, 66 officials complied with their “correct” SOCE—among them are Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa, Rep. Naida Angping of Manila; Rep. Ronald Singson of Ilocos Sur; Gov. Ryan Luis Singson of Ilocos Sur and Gov. Amado Espino of Pangasinan.