Comelec defends SOCE filing extension

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2016 06:23 PM

Commission on Election spokesperson James Jimenez answers questions from the media during the first day of the filing of certifcates of candidacy in Intramuros, Manila on October 12, 2015. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday denied allegations that it favored the Liberal Party (LP) when it decided to grant the party's request to extend the filing period for the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).

The poll body is currently facing public backlash on social media over its decision, with many netizens scoring the Comelec for blatantly "bending" the rules to favor LP candidates.

"As was emphasized by the en banc, decision is for all affected parties," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters.

Aside from the LP, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Aksyon Demokratiko were also not able to file their expenditure statements by the June 8 deadline.

Jimenez reiterated that the Comelec took into consideration the effect of the law in their decision, adding that the law "never intended for the results to be absurd."

Aside from Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, the Comelec said five senators, 115 congressmen and 40 governors will not be allowed to sit in office because of the rule.

"It really doesn't matter what party they are in, ultimately nanalo na yan. Ang partido nila, yung bayan na. Kapag hindi sila maka-assume, yung mga botante na namili sa kanila, yun ang mawawalan ng representasyon. Hindi yon ang ideal situation, at naging matimbang na kunsiderasyon ng en banc," Jimenez said.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's party, PDP-Laban, is set to question the poll body's decision before the Supreme Court (SC).

READ: PDP Laban to challenge SOCE extension before SC

Jimenez said that this was already expected.

"That's something that we should have expected. In fact, even before the decision came out, people were already saying that whatever we decided, someone was bound to take it up with the Supreme Court. If a suit is filed, then we're just going to meet it head on," he said.

WILL OF THE PEOPLE

In a series of tweets on Friday, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon defended the en banc's decision to extend the deadline of SOCE submission.

Guanzon is one of four commissioners who voted in favor of the extension, along with Arthur Lim, Sheriff Abbas, and Al Parreño.

"The people voted for them; respect the will of the people. That is the primordial principle in the elections," she wrote.

She said the law does not prohibit extension, adding that the poll body had already extended the deadline in 2013 and 2010.

"Procedural rules cannot prevail over the sovereign will of the people. The Supreme Court has ruled that many times," said Guanzon.