Comelec: Election enforcer or pushover?

9

AT first glance, the decision of the Commission on Elections to grant the Liberal Party’s appeal for a 14-day extension for the filing of its statement of contributions and expenses (SOCE) does not appear like a very big deal.

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On closer examination, however, it is an issue fraught with huge implications for the poll body.

Having lost several cases at the Supreme Court, the Comelec now, as a matter of policy, tries to sound very firm and strict whenever it promulgates rules.

It uses words like non-extendible and unappealable.

This is its way of showing some gravitas because its chairman, Commissioner Andres Bautista, does not look like he has an ounce of it.

In the case of the SOCE extension for LP candidates, Comelec has not only failed to show gravitas; it has inexplicably surrendered much of its dignity as a constitutional commission.

Going into the May 9 elections, it announced to all candidates and political parties that it had set to June 8 the deadline for the filing of the SOCE, or 30 days after the elections. And then it said ominously that the deadline was “final and non-extendible.”

In requesting for a two-week extension to file its statement, the LP was clearly counting on the poll body’s assent because it is the administration party.

Adjudicating this issue is not as simple as following the letter of the law and the rules.

Failure to file the SOCE on or before June 8 means that hundreds of winning LP candidates could be barred from assuming their posts because of their party’s failure to file the statement.

When the issue was put to a vote by the Comelec en banc, the poll body, by a vote of four commissioners for and three commissioners against, decided to extend the filing of SOCEs until June 30.

The decision went against the recommendation of the chairman of the Comelec’s Campaign Finance Office, Commissioner Christian Robert Lim.

Lim said Republic Act 7166 clearly provided that the submission of SOCE should be made within 30 days after the elections. He said an amendment of the law was needed for the Comelec to extend the deadline.

He also said that the Omnibus Rules on Campaign Finance provided that the June 8 deadline was “final and non-extendible.”

Joining him in opposing the extension were Chairman Andres Bautista and Commissioner Luie Tito Guia.

The commissioners who voted in favor of granting the extension were Arthur Lim, Al Parreño, Rowena Guanzon, and Sheriff Abas. They cited as justification “the absurdity of the result” if the extension was not allowed.

Christian Robert Lim has resigned from his CFO position on account of the rebuff by his colleagues.

He is asserting a point that is worth defending. The very dignity and authority of the Comelec as elections regulator is at issue here. Either it defends its right to be obeyed by all participants in the electoral process, or the public will see it as being pushed around by the administration.

Losing the legal battle over Grace Poe’s disqualification as a presidential candidate at the Supreme Court was bad enough. To lose on this SOCE issue is too much a loss of face.

Comelec commissioners will each need a thick face to appear in public.

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9 Comments

  1. It’s really sad that these “cosmetic” Commission-ers get paid for defying the rules they crafted. I don’t agree with their presumption that “the will of the people” weighs more than any Comeleak rules. What about the case of Gov. Ejercito in Laguna who was disqualified from serving his own people for failure to abide the over-spending rules? Sad to say,”the will of the people” reasoning is selective – it’s only for those who can give these Commission-ers hefty commissions. It’s disgusting.

  2. Eh. Pera pera lang yan. Magkano ba. Dinig ko 5M daw bawat KOMISYONER na bumoto pabor sa extension. Bilyones reserba ng LP… Sus…

  3. I hate to admit but it seems that almost all happenings in our country is: “It is who you know but it is who you blow”.

  4. COMELEC should publish the names of elected officials who did not comply with the June 8 deadline.COMELEC owes this information to the voters.

  5. P.Akialamiro on

    The ruling by the Sereno SC on Grace Poe, and now the Comelec ruling on the extension, make us appear with “Mickey Mouse” judges and commissioners.It’s a shame!

    • anarowena alba on

      The Comelec members cannot be considered as Honorable…They are Horrorbable who does not deserve to be respected at all. And yet they will be part of Duterte´s governance.? To imagine the country is like a house, then the Comelec part of the house is the toilet..!!!

  6. Comelec granting extension to the filing of the SOCE til June 30 violated the law they so strictly tried to enforce prior to June 8, the Liberal Party failed to file theirs on time and was allowed extension disregarding the law of “finality and non extendibly”. How about if the other parties were the ones who failed to file theirs on time, would the matter be treated the same leniency as it had done in the Liberal Party case ? The law , the Comelec Law, creating the Office, appointing its members and enforcing its very rules and regulations as a poll body should be independent and impartial, non- political and only owes its Loyalty to the Constitution and the Filipino people and must prove itself as a non-corruptible organization , and so as the other government organizations, so created e. g. Office of the Ombudsman, Supreme Court, Commission on Audit, Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Immigration, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Public Works and Highways etc.

    .

  7. Sir,

    The decision to extend the SOCE submission deadline by member of COMELEC is inconsistent with earlier positions they took when they said that their role of COMELEC is not to interpret the law but only to implement to the letter of the law.

    Now we have members of the same COMELEC taking a different tract and rationalizing their decision to arrogantly defy the law governing the matter.

    Note, the LP had members who were part of the legislators group that crafted the said law, therefore they should know and abide by the law that they crafted and approved for all to follow, however flawed it is viewed today.

    Futher, Roxas who sought to be President, also didn’t file his SOCE on time…this is a scary scenario. What if he won? Can we accept a President who has no respect for the law?

    How can we allow or tolerate politicians who believe that they are above the law and that the laws only applies to the opposition?

    CORRUPTION HAPPENS IN OUR COUNTRY BECAUSE of the UNWARRANTED SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT by POLITICIANS and GOVERNMENT OFFCIALS.

    I Believe that the COMELEC officials have committed corruption with their act of providing “illegal favor” in the guise of yielding to the “will of the people”.

    This view is speculative at best. The people who voted for the affected candidates, voted for them in good faith and did not know that they (LP, ROXAS) would act maliciously and intentionally violate the laws they are sworn to uphold.

    This is a very bad example given by certain members of COMELEC for voting to accept the violation of deadline to file SOCE as required by law.

    SAD! SAD! SAD!

    RGDavid