Photo by Rappler/Jose Del
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – A total of 424 local officials, including 20 congressmen, have been asked by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, December 12, to vacate their posts for failing to submit on time and properly filing their election contributions and expenses to the poll body.
In a press conference, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said these officials either failed to submit their Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE), did not personally sign the SOCE, or did not use the prescribed SOCE form. Brillantes announced that 422 local officials are affected, but the list provided to media has 424 names.
Among those that have been asked to step down are Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, Pasay City Mayor Tony Calixto, and Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino.
"We are just complying with the law," said Brillantes.
"Alam na naman nila ito, pero hindi naman sila sumusunod," added Brilantes. (They are aware of this, but they do not follow the law.)
In defense of Vilma
In a statement, Senator Ralph Recto defended his wife and Governor Vilma Santos, saying that the Batangas Comelec officer was "shocked and surprised" by the Comelec order. Recto said the Batangas governor filed her SOCE on June 6, earlier than the deadline, using the Comelec prescribed form. "We followed all laws, rules and regulations," he said.
Recto also said they have a "certificate of compliance dated June 6 from Comelec Batangas that we complied."
Recto said they reviewed "just now all the documents we filed and we do not see any mistakes." If there were mistakes spotted, the Comelec should have informed them, Recto argued, so that they could have rectified any error, "if there’s any."
The Comelec's list includes 169 officials from the Liberal Party and 44 from the National Unity Party allied with the ruling party, according to a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).
In addition, there are 39 candidates from the Nacionalista Party, 31 from the Nationalist People's Coalition, 29 from the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, and 17 from Lakas-CMD. 33 of the violators were independent candidates.
The order has been sent to the House of Representatives and the Department of the Interior and Local Government for implementation.
According to Republic Act 7166, all candidates, winning or losing, have to submit their Statement of Election Contributions and Expenses 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."
Once they comply with the proper filing of SOCEs, they will be reinstated to their respective offices.
The composition of non-compliant elected officials are as follows:
A total of 155 officials, including 4 congressmen, did not submit their SOCE. There were 104 officials on the list that did not personally sign their SOCE, while 165 did not use the prescribed form. – Rappler.com