MORE than 500 candidates who are running for various posts face perpetual disqualification from seeking elective office following their failure to file their statement of contributions and expenditures or SOCE for two consecutive elections.
"A lot of petitions to perpetually disqualify have been filed by the Comelec Finance Department. More or less 500 individuals face perpetual disqualification," Commissioner George Garcia disclosed on Thursday during the weekly Pandesal Forum in Kamuning, Quezon City.
Garcia said that a Supreme Court jurisprudence gives the commission the right to perpetually disqualify candidates who disregard the mandatory filing of their SOCE.
The Supreme Court ruling, he added, states "if a candidate fails to file a SOCE for two consecutive elections, it is the right of the commission to perpetually disqualify them."
He also pointed out that "good faith" is not a reason for not filing a SOCE, which, Garcia said, is a special law.
The Comelec earlier said that 12 candidates have been barred from seeking public office because they did not file their SOCE.
Garcia warned candidates that the commission is serious in running after erring candidates and determined to disqualify them forever.
"We want to exact compliance. We want candidates to take it seriously because their impression for the longest time was that the Comelec has not been enforcing its finance rules. And they think that they can just get away with it and can always run again in the next term," he added.
He gave assurances that the Comelec will resolve all the 500 disqualification cases even after the elections.
"Even if the candidate who is being disqualified wins the elections, we can still run after him," Garcia said.
He advised the candidates to be truthful in filing their SOCEs because the Comelec is being provided with their election expenses by television, radio stations and print media that were airing and publishing their campaign propaganda.
"We will know who is telling the truth. Definitely, we will know who the donors and contributors are, how much money was spent, how much money was left after the elections," he added.
Under the law, all candidates from president down to the local levels and political parties should file their SOCEs a month after the May 9 elections, or on June 8, 2022, without an extension.
The law provides that violators may be prevented from assuming their posts and at worst, face perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Regardless of the results of elections, whether one had won or lost, or even if the candidates or parties did not receive any contribution or incurred any expenditure, they should still submit their SOCEs reflecting such fact.
The Comelec also reminded candidates to fill in all the required information because an incomplete SOCE shall be deemed not to have been submitted.
The legal basis for requiring candidates and political parties to submit "full, true and itemized" SOCEs is Section 14 of Republic Act 7166. It provides that all candidates and treasurers of political parties are required to file their SOCEs.
Under the law, "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."