Comelec gives ultimatum to candidates on filing of SOCEs

by Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 16 2014 11:34 AM | Updated as of Feb 16 2014 07:34 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given an ultimatum to candidates, political parties and party-list groups that participated in last year’s polls to file their statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCEs) by May 12, 2014.

In Resolution 9849, the Comelec said the deadline is “final and non-extendable.”

“This resolution shall likewise apply to the candidates and parties even if they did not receive contributions, made no expenditures and have no paid obligations with respect to their campaigns for the 2013 elections,” the Comelec said.

The resolution stated that those who filed non-compliant or deficient SOCEs also have until May 12 to make the necessary corrections.

SOCEs are considered non-compliant and deficient if they do not have accompanying attachments or schedules and summary report; were not personally signed by the candidate or the party treasurer; did not use the prescribed forms and did not have photocopy of receipts issued to contributors and receipts or invoice for the expenditures incurred, among others.

Under Republic Act 7166 or the Synchronized National and Local Elections Act of 1991, the SOCE shall be filed within 30 days after the day of elections.

The law provides that “no person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the SOCE.”

The Comelec, however, said it is necessary to extend the deadline to “encourage disclosure by candidates and parties of their campaign contributions and expenditures.”

The Comelec warned that failure to file correct SOCEs constitutes an administrative offense that is punishable with a fine ranging from P1,000 to P30,000.

The poll body said submission of late or corrected SOCEs “does not constitute full compliance unless accompanied by the payment of the late penalty.”

The Comelec added that those who failed to comply for two elections shall be fined up to P60,000 and disqualified from holding public office.

The resolution showed that the penalty for those who ran for senator is P16,000; governor and vice governor, P9,500; members of the House of Representatives, P8,000; city mayors and city vice mayors, P8,000; members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, P6,500; municipal mayors, vice mayors and members of the Sangguniang Bayan, P5,000.

The fine for party-list organizations and national political parties is P16,000; regional and provincial political parties, P9,500 and local political parties, P8,000.

Last December, the Comelec identified 421 elected officials who violated the SOCE requirements.

Of the 421 violators, 20 were congressmen, including former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa.

Meanwhile, three were governors: Batangas’ Vilma Santos-Recto, Laguna’s ER Ejercito and Ilocos Sur’s Ryan Luis Singson.

There was also one vice governor, 12 provincial board members, three city mayors, nine city vice mayors, 47 city councilors, 23 municipal mayors, 26 municipal vice mayors and 277 municipal councilors.