THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said 422 elected officials must quit their posts because they have not submitted their Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) that lists their donors and expenditures, within deadline and according to the prescribed form.
The officials concerned include four governors, 20 congressmen, and 24 mayors, said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.
In a press conference, Brillantes said the poll agency is “ordering, through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and House of Representatives [HoR] the 422 elected officials to vacate their respective offices for failure to file their SOCEs.”
He said the officials will be reinstated once they file their SOCEs, but with “penalty.”
Among those who were told to step down from their positions are former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga; Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa; Gov. Vilma Santos of Batangas; Gov. Ryan Luis Singson of Ilocos Sur; Mayor Tony Calixto of Pasay City; Gov. Amado Espino of Pangasinan; and Gov. ER Ejercito of Laguna.
The list also included one vice governor, 12 provincial board members, 26 city and municipal vice mayors, 35 city and municipal vice governors; and 324 city and municipal councilors.
Among the officials are 169 members of the Liberal Party of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and 44 from the National Unity Party (NUP) that is allied with the LP; 39 candidates from the Nacionalista Party (NP); 33 independent candidates; 31 from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC); 29 from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) led by Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay; and 17 from the Lakas-CMD party.
It was learned that 155 candidates did not file SOCEs at all, and 269 others submitted deficient SOCEs.
Under the Republic Act 7166, all candidates, winning or losing, must submit their SOCE 30 days after the polls.
Section 14 states that, “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 herein required.”
Brillantes said the candidates must strictly comply with the law, “otherwise they will be removed from the position.”
He noted that all senators complied with their SOCE.
Former Customs chief Ruffy Biazon defended his father, saying they have already submitted their SOCE.
“Office of Rep. Biazon has a cert of compliance of submission of SOCE dated June 3, 2013 issued by Atty. Dinah Valencia, Muntinlupa Election Officer,” Biazon said in his official twitter account.
Raul Lambino, Arroyo’s chief of staff, said the former president had “filed her SOCE and he has a copy of it.”
On September 26, the Comelec’s First Division ruled to disqualify Ejercito for breaching the lawful spending limits for candidates running for local positions.
Recto said she filed her SOCE even before the deadline given by the Comelec.
“We followed the laws, rules and regulation of the Comelec, actually we have a certificate of compliance dated June 6 from the Batangas Comelec office,” she said.
Recto said she and even the Batangas Comelec office were surprised.
“We did not get any letter from the Comelec. If we knew there was a problem, we could have made the correction,” she added.
Recto said she asked her lawyers to check why she was included in the Comelec order.
“If there are problems in form or signature, it can be easily fixed,” she said.
Batangas Comelec Provincial Supervisor Gloria Petallo said the governor used the prescribed form that was secured from their office but it was signed by somebody else.
Petallo said she has to check the Comelec ruling on letting someone else sign the SOCE through a special power of attorney.
Batangas representatives including first district Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain, third district Rep. Nelson Collantes and fourth district Rep. Llandro Mendoza were also in the Comelec list.
In an interview, Mendoza said a signature was missing, but that the matter was resolved by the Comelec office in Batangas.
Collantes in a text message said: “We complied with everything as far as we are concerned. My lawyers are now looking into it.”
Rep. Ermita-Buhain said she submitted her SOCE on June 30.
On Thursday, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said they will unseat the 20 lawmakers by Monday if they failed to iron out the kinks in their SOCE.
Belmonte issued the ultimatum after the 20 House members were identified by the Comelec as being remiss in filing their SOCE, 12 of them only failed to affix their signatures on the SOCE form while others had filed theirs under the old SOCE form.
“The Comelec is overreacting in this issue. Some filed under incorrect form, while there are those whose SOCE were signed by their representative for them. By Monday, which is a session day, I’m sure all of them 20 would have fully complied with SOCE requirements. If they failed to comply by that time, I’ll have them vacate their positions,” Belmonte said in a press conference.
Only two of the 20, Belmonte said, failed to submit their SOCE: Salvio Fortuno of Camarines Sur and Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan.
Rep. Tricia Bonoan-David of Manila said she tried to submit her SOCE but the Comelec was having a Christmas party.
“If they didn’t sign the document by personally, then that was not done in bad faith. It’s simply misapprehension. That is why I am flabbergasted by this. I am confident that their can comply with the requirements within the reasonable time I gave them,” Belmonte said.