WITH the proclamation process of the just-concluded barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth council) elections almost through, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has called on all candidates to file their statements of contribution and expenditures (SOCE) not later than June 13, or risk being perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez on Tuesday disclosed that as of 1:50 p.m., 94.01 percent of all villages nationwide were able to proclaim the winners. Regions III and VII were already 100 percent finished and all winners in 3,102 and 3,003 villages, respectively, already proclaimed.
“Overall, it’s almost finished. Hopefully, by 8 p.m. it’s all over,” Jimenez said.
Winners who happen to be drug suspects could be subjected to Operation: Tokhang, the main strategy of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police chief, said.
“Just because they won, it does not mean that they will be excused especially if they are really involved [in drug-related activities,” Albayalde said in Filipino during a news briefing also on Tuesday.
Before the elections, the government released a narco list containing the names of 207 former and incumbent village officials nationwide who are suspected of links to the drug trade.
There are 42,044 barangay in 81 provinces around the country but no elections were held in 100 villages for various reasons.
Excluded from the polls were 100 barangay in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, according to Comelec Minute Resolution 18-0085, dated January 31, 2018, citing ongoing rehabilitation of the Islamic city; Barangay Bagong Lipunan in Baguio City, Cordillera Autonomous Region, where market dwellers/voters were excluded by a court order; Barangay 10, Tondo, Manila, which has no existing voters and whose previous residents were relocated; Barangay Inampologan, Sibunag, Guimaras, which is a privately owned island where voters are not participating in barangay elections but are voting in national elections; and Barangay Kohec, Sapa-Sapat, Tawi-Tawi, where there are no voters.
There were 1,070,991 candidates for 671,168 positions for the barangay and SK polls.
"Finally, the elections are over and it’s time for the candidates to file their SOCE. The candidates need to be
reminded that they have 30 days within which to file their statement of contributions and expenditures, which means their deadline is June 13,” Jimenez said in a news briefing.
Jimenez pointed out that non-filing of SOCE is not really a ground for disqualification but it becomes one if a candidate has perenially disregarded this requirement for candidates who run for public office, if he/she wins or loses or did not participate in the elections later but had filed a CoC (certificate of candidacy).
"If a loser did not file a SOCE, it will be part of his record as not having filed a SOCE for these elections. If it becomes a habit of a candidate to disregard the requirement of SOCE, he will be disqualified later on,” he said.
"Recently, we filed a [case for]permanent disqualification. I think almost a thousand recidivists who repeatedly failed to file their SOCE were disqualified from running,” Jimenez added.
According to the Comelec spokesman, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is trying to
find a way to enforce the SOCE by requiring barangay officials to present a certificate of compliance from the Comelec before administering their oath of office.
Earlier, the Comelec Campaign Finance Office published on its website a list of candidates declared with finality by the commission as perpetually disqualified to hold public office for repeated failures to file their SOCE after elections.
“We have always said that the barangay is where the public directly experiences our government. Therefore, our frontline public officials must be sterling exemplars of upright, law-abiding citizens to the public whom they pledge to serve,” Jimenez said.
Section 14 or Republic Act 7166 requires the filing of SOCE, and failure to do so prohibits winning candidates from entering upon the duties of their office until they have complied.
The commission of a second or subsequent failure to file the SOCE subjects the offender to perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
Meanwhile, lawmakers cried foul over claims of DILG Assistant Secretary Martin Diño that at least 10 lawmakers engaged in vote-buying during Monday’s village polls.
Representatives Teddy Baguilat, Edgar Erice and Tomasito Villarin dared Diño to file cases if he has evidence instead of besmirching people’s names.
Baguilat and Villarin chided the Interior official for campaigning for federalism instead of conducting an information campaign on the village polls.
“Village chiefs are asked to attend federalism meetings, made to pledge support to Charter change and to take their oath as party members, violating the principle of non-partisanship for barangay officials. It is no wonder why many of them now approach [lawma[lawmakers]ocal[local government units’ executives] for cash support during the elections because they consider themselves as party mates and ward leaders of politicians,” Baguilat said.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI AND ROY NARRA