Can Comelec probe Marcos donation to Duterte?

Paterno Esmaquel II
Can Comelec probe Marcos donation to Duterte?
'The Comelec cannot act unless a formal complaint has been lodged,' Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez tells Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday, October 12, said it needs a formal complaint before it can investigate the reported campaign donation of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos to then presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte. 

Marcos’ reported donation was not included in Duterte’s Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) – a possible violation of Comelec rules.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez, however, said the poll body cannot initiate an investigation motu proprio, or on its own, based only on the President’s statement that Marcos contributed to his campaign.

“The Comelec cannot act unless a formal complaint has been lodged,” Jimenez told Rappler.

“Whoever is interested can file a complaint,” he added.

Duterte brought up Marcos’ name as a a contributor during a speech on October 4. He said hardly anyone supported him at first, except for people like Marcos. 

Wala akong barangay captain, wala akong congressman, wala akong pera. Si Imee pa ang nagbigay. Sabi niya inutang daw niya,” the President said.

(I didn’t have a barangay captain, I didn’t have a congressman, I didn’t have money. It was Imee who donated. She said she borrowed money for it.)

‘Many uncertainties’

In his interview with Rappler, Jimenez explained that Duterte’s statement “is really not enough to initiate” a motu proprio investigation.

After all, he said Duterte’s remarks involve “many uncertainties” – among these, the possibility that the President “misspoke.”

Duterte’s statements, however, can be part of a formal complaint to initiate a Comelec probe.

Under its rules, the poll body considers incomplete SOCEs as “not filed.”

Failing to file the SOCE, in turn, bars winning candidates from taking office.

It is unclear how this applies to winning candidates, such as Duterte, who have already taken their oaths of office.

Candidates who fail to file their SOCEs also face penalties ranging from P1,000 to P30,000 ($20.58 to $617.60).

The SOCE is a way for the Comelec monitor if a candidate overspent during the campaign, and for watchdogs to identify the donors to whom a candidate might be indebted once in office. – Rappler.com

$1 = P48.57

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.