MANILA, Philippines – The Campaign Finance Office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday, June 15, recommended the denial of the request of the Liberal Party (LP) to extend the deadline for filing its Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).
The Campaign Finance Office also sought to deny the similar request of LP presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim, head of the poll body’s Campaign Finance Office, filed this recommendation before the Comelec en banc, or the commission sitting as a whole.
Lim enumerated the following reasons:
- The deadline for filing the SOCE “is a hard deadline set by law” in Republic Act (RA 7166).
- The Comelec reiterated the “final and non-extendible” nature of the June 8 deadline through its own rules and press releases.
- All presidential and vice presidential candidates, except for Roxas, managed to file their SOCE on time; among national political parties, LP is one of only 3 parties that failed to meet the deadline for SOCE filing.
“To grant the request for extension would not only be unfair to other candidates and parties who complied with the prescribed period, but also would be a reversal of the Commission’s own Resolution on the matter,” said Lim. (READ: UNA: Don’t give ‘special treatment’ to Roxas, LP in SOCE filing)
Before joining the Comelec, Lim was part of the Bantay Balota (Ballot Watch) group for then presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III and his running mate, Roxas, in the 2010 elections.
Fine up to P30,000
In his memo to the Comelec en banc, Lim explained that the LP wanted to extend the deadline for 14 days. This is because of “the confusion brought by the stringent new requirements for the submission of the SOCE.”
The LP submitted its SOCE on Tuesday, June 14, or 6 days past the June 8 deadline.
Roxas’ SOCE was not included in the LP’s submission on Tuesday.
Section 14 of RA 7166 states: “No person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required.”
“The same prohibition shall apply if the political party which nominated the winning candidate fails to file the statement required herein within the period prescribed by this Act,” it added.
Failure to file the SOCE shall merit a fine of P1,000 to P30,000 ($22 to $647) for the first offense.
For the second offense, the fine would be P2,000 to P60,000 ($43 to $1,294). “In addition, the offender shall be subject to perpetual disqualification to hold public office,” the law says.
The Comelec en banc is expected to soon tackle the implications of the LP’s late submission on the party’s candidates, including Vice President-elect Leni Robredo. (READ: Ex-Comelec chief Brillantes: Late filing of SOCE not illegal) – Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com