Only 6 winning senators cleared to assume office

Senators-elect who have yet to fully comply with election expenses reporting requirements cannot start their terms unless the Senate President allows them

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – So far, only 6 incoming senators have been cleared by the Commision on Elections (Comelec) to assume office on Sunday, June 30.

As of Thursday, June 27, two more senators-elect from the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) – re-electionist Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II and neophyte Nancy Binay – had completed their election contribution and expenditure reports. 

Earlier (as of Tuesday, June 25), there were only 4 who were deemed “fully complied” in the submission of their respective Statement of Election Contributions and Expeditures (SOCE), according to documents given to Rappler by Comelec.

They were Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, and Cynthia Villar – all from the administration Team PNoy slate. 

Honasan was among the senatorial winners who completed their filings, but were not given clearance by the Comelec because their respective parties had yet to file their SOCEs.

UNA submitted its missing documents on Thursday, paving the way for the inclusion of Honasan and Binay in the list. On the same day, Binay submitted missing copies of receipts to her contributors and invoices for expenses incurred. This was confirmed by a staff of Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim in a phone interview.

The other 6 senators-elect who have yet to fully comply with campaign expense filings can only assume office if the Senate President will allow them.

Republic Act 7166, which synchronized the national and local elections, has removed failure to file the SOCE as a ground for disqualification. It now only treats it as an administrative offense with corresponding penalty.

The last day of submission of SOCEs was on Thursday, June 13, exactly a month after the 2013 midterm elections. A penalty of P1,000 is imposed per day of delay.

Of the 6 who have gotten clearance from Comelec, 5 in fact were late in completing their documents. They were imposed the following penalties due to late resubmission of requirements:

  • Binay – P13,000, after being cleared only on Thursday, June 27
  • Escudero – P7,000, after being cleared on Thursday, June 20
  • Honasan – P8,000, after being cleared on Friday, June 21
  • Poe – P6,000, after being cleared on Wednesday, June 19
  • Villar – P8,000, after being cleared on June 21

In an ambush interview after a press conference by the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) on Wednesday, June 26, Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim stated that they will write to the Senate President about the non-compliant senators-elect.

However, it would be up to the Senate President whether to allow them to assume office. All candidates will be issued a certificate of compliance as proof, but it is not a requirement in the Senators’ assumption of office. This rule only applies to local candidates, confirms Lim.

Comelec will wait until Saturday, June 29, for the completion of requirements of the remaining 6 candidates.

Political parties should comply too

Two other winning senators have fully complied, but their respective political parties still have deficiencies in their SOCEs. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV of the Liberal Party (LP) and Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) cannot assume office until their parties have submitted all copies of receipts to its contributors and for its expenses.

LP also has to itemize its Schedule of Contributions and Expenditures and indicate the official receipt number and date received for the contributions it received. The SCR is the detailed enumeration of who contributed, how much, and when (as opposed to the SOCE, which reflects only totals.)

Aquino has incurred a fine of P4,000, while Legarda has to pay P7,000.

The remaining 4 senators-elect have not yet been cleared by Comelec.

Juan Edgardo Angara of Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino party has not yet cleared because the LDP has yet to file its SOCE. Angara also failed to indicate the tax identification numbers (TIN) of some of his contributors. Some copies of receipts issued to his contributors are missing as well.

Antonio Trillanes IV has the same discrepancies in his SOCE as Angara, but his party, the Nacionalista Party (NP), has submitted a compliant SOCE.

The SOCE of Juan Victor “JV” Ejercito sent via registered mail on Thursday, June 13, has not reached Comelec yet. Documents served personally by his camp to the Comelec office on Friday, June 14, did not contain the copies of all pertinent receipts.

Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is deemed by Comelec to have “not filed”  because he did not personally sign and certify his SOCE. It was signed instead by Nestor S. Famatigan Jr, an external auditor working for Famatigan Famatigan & Associates. Pimentel also has missing copies of receipts to contributors.

Angara, Ejercito, Pimentel, and Trillanes have incurred a running penalty of P14,000 each as of Thursday, June 27.

Losing candidates fully comply

Meanwhile, 10 losing candidates have fully complied with the requirements. Three submitted on time and incurred no penalties: Ramon Magsaysay Jr, Samson Alcantara, and Ricardo Penson.

Edward Hagedorn has to pay P8,000 for late resubmission of requirements, while Risa Hontiveros has to pay P2,000 for late submission of her SOCE.

Teodoro Casiño has fully complied and submitted on time, but his party, the Makabayan Coalition, has yet to file its SOCE.

Jamby Madrigal of LP, Juan Miguel Zubiri of UNA, John Carlos delos Reyes of Ang Kapatiran Party, and Christian Señeres of the Democratic Party of the Philippines have individually completed their requirements, but their respective parties have not. AKP and DPP have yet to submit their SOCE.

The remaining 11 senatorial candidates have not yet fully complied with their requirements. All have also incurred penalties amounting to P14,000 each as of June 27.

Three were deemed to have “not filed” for various reasons: NPC’s Juan Ponce “Jack” Enrile Jr for not personally signing his SOCE, and DPP’s Baldomero Falcone, and Bangon Pilipinas’ Bro Eddie Villanueva for not using the prescribed SOCE form. – with reports from Buena Bernal/Rappler.com

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