MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III appears to be caught flatfooted by the possibility that partymates who won in the May 9 elections will not be able to take office because of the Liberal Party's (LP) failure to file its Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) on time.
Aquino referred questions about the LP's SOCE to its defeated standard bearer, Mar Roxas.
"I think I'd like to refer you to our candidate, Mar Roxas, who would know more of the details there, number one. That's why the courts are there to adjudge yung any controversy," Aquino said.
"Ngayon, as to the charge, parang the way it sounds, parang the party adopted the position na we will not file SOCE when di ba parang the day the supposed deadline, si Leni Robredo actually had filed hers... I assume and I believe most, if not all, filed at the right time."
READ: Leni 'not in peril' amid LP's late SOCE filing, lawyer says
The LP's biggest winner in the election, Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, along with five winning senators and over 100 congressmen, may not be able to assume office on June 30 because compliance with the SOCE requirement is one of the requirements before winners take office. Candidates, win or lose, have 30 days after election day to file their SOCE.
Asked if PDP-Laban's move to elevate to the Supreme Court (SC) the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the deadline to accommodate the LP may lead to a constitutional crisis, Aquino said: "I would like to consult our lawyers. What I read in the media previously, if you don't file on time, the penalty is when you file your next certificate of candidacy. Medyo new sa akin yung may penalty in this candidacy so I'll have to check."
Aquino's partymate, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, recognized that the LP committed a "grievous mistake" and that it is "a citizen's prerogative" to get the poll body to justify its decision before the SC.
But he said: "Sa akin lang, I wish we LP elected officials and our constituents should not be penalized as a whole due to shortcomings of our party."
Baguilat, however, did not hold back his criticism over the PDP Laban's move.
READ: PDP Laban to challenge SOCE extension before SC
"My question is the propriety of the petitioner and their agenda. Why PDP? Why the administration party which is building a coalition with the other political parties including LP? If the aim is to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) and they succeed, then we do have a constitutional crisis. Also tells you straightforward that 'magdusa kayo LP. You're not welcome to the super coalition unless you turncoat.' I'm not against the petition. But let someone not PDP do it? Smells fishy," he said.
Legal luminaries, meanwhile, have different opinions on the PDP-Laban's decision to ask the high court to stop the extension of the Comelec's deadline.
"In our opinion, the TRO will be denied. The qualification of a candidate to a public office is provided under the Constitution and the Local Government Code. It is substantive law which is superior to a resolution rendered by the Comelec," Dean Rodolfo Palattao of the University of Manila told ABS-CBN News.
"Non-compliance with the Comelec resolution requiring SOCE will result only in an administrative penalty. It will not affect the election of the candidates. A Comelec resolution cannot affect the will of the people expressed in their choice in the election contest."
University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina, for his part, said, "LP can make the case moot and academic by the filing of the SOCE without prejudice to the authority of the Comelec to impose the appropriate sanction."