THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has failed to take action on a request of defeated presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd for a 14-day extension to file his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).
But the Liberal Party (LP) made up for the shortcoming of its standard-bearer by filing its SOCE on Tuesday though six days late from the June 8 deadline set by law.
The party spent at least P241 million in the May 9 elections.
The LP’s SOCE was supported by five boxes of documents, which were brought to the Comelec by representatives of the Sardillo Sardillo Salom Law Office, the party’s legal counsel.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista attributed the en banc’s non-action on the request of Roxas to absence of a recommendation from the Campaign Finance Office (CFO), headed by Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, who was absent in the regular en banc meeting, and also in last week’s special en banc session.
“We are still waiting for the CFO recommendation,” Bautista told reporters after their Tuesday’s regular en banc meeting.
According to the poll body chief, Lim is busy attending to voluminous SOCE filed by political parties and national candidates, which the CFO has to review if the source of their contributions and the expenditures they incurred were all legal or in accordance with the law.
The commission was supposed to rule on Tuesday on the request of Roxas and the LP for a 14-day extension.
The request for extension was filed last June 8.
Commissioner Tito Luie Guia said the en banc will tackle the issue once the CFO is ready with its recommendation even as he noted that the commission will always be on the side of the law.
Guia pointed out that submission of SOCE is a legal requirement set by law, which, he said, the Comelec has to impement.
“The issue on us is the deadline, which is imposed by law. It’s Congress that crafted the law, not the Comelec,” he said.
The legal basis for requiring candidates and political parties to submit “full, true and itemized” SOCE is Section 14 of Republic Act 7166.
It provides that all candidates and treasurers of political parties are required to file their SOCE.
“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…” the law says.
It adds, “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.”
Failure to submit a SOCE carries with it an administrative fine under Comelec Resolution 9939.
Also under the 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 the House of Representatives, city mayors and city vice mayors shall be fined P20,000 for first offense and P40,000 for second offense, while municipal mayors, municipal vice mayors and municipal councilors shall 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