The announcement by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) the other day that no less than 422 elected officials would have to vacate their posts was a case of needless dramatics.
Among the well-known personalities who stood to lose their posts were Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito.
The news came as a shock to the various elected officials, who were informed that they stood to lose their positions because they had failed to submit their Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCEs) within the deadline set by the Comelec.
No less than Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that the winners of the polls held earlier this year were barred from assuming office for failure to follow Republic Act 7166, or the Synchronized Election Law of 1991.
One day after the announcement was made, the poll body now says that the officials only had to pay a P30,000 penalty to be “reinstated.”
In other words, most if not all the winners could indeed assume office by correcting what is tantamount to minor errors in the form they submitted.
Vilma Santos is a good case in point. According to the actress-turned-politician, as far as she knew, her SOCE had been filed as far back as June of this year, or shortly after she was declared winner of the gubernatorial race in Batangas.
The Comelec would show the document, then point out that there were some missing entries.
If her example is typical, then the public must wonder why the Comelec didn’t just tell her beforehand that there were some shortcomings in the document. She would have corrected the mistaken or missing entry, and gone about her work as chief executive of the Southern Tagalog province.
But no. The poll body had to take the melodramatic step of announcing to the world that a large number of candidates would lose their posts.
This must have caused the opponents who lost to them to salivate over the positions that would have been theirs had the fates—and the electorate—been kinder to them.
Those losers would have asked their lawyers to prepare documents asking the Comelec to declare them as the true winners of the 2013 elections. For such is the way of Philippine politics. No one ever loses. He is simply cheated out of whatever post he had been vying for.
And if, for whatever legal technicality, a big winner faces disqualification, then the losers prepare their grand entrance to the office that they ran for, with a victory party thrown in for good measure.
Now, they can be expected to grumble because their hopes had been needlessly raised by the Comelec announcement, then shot down a mere day later.
As for the 422 elected officials facing a disqualification threat that never was, they are all expected to submit corrected SOCEs and pay the P30,000 penalty to reclaim the positions that they won, hopefully fair and square and sans cheating.
Unless, of course, they are congressmen no longer interested in their positions because they have been permanently deprived of their pork barrel…