Comelec en banc to discuss LP's SOCE tomorrow

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2016 09:33 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc is set to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the request of the Liberal Party (LP) to extend the deadline for the submission of the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).

The LP and its standard-bearer, Mar Roxas, were among those who failed to file before the deadline on June 8.

The LP was only able to submit its SOCE on Tuesday, or 6 days after the deadline.

READ: LP spent P241-M in May polls

When asked by reporters, Campaign Finance Chief Commissioner Christian Robert Lim was mum on the issue but said that the CFO will submit its recommendation to the en banc on Wednesday afternoon.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), meanwhile, has expressed its objection to the extension of the deadline to the commission.

In a letter, UNA Secretary General JV Bautista asked the poll body to deny the request of the LP, saying the LP and Roxas must be sanctioned for their failure to account for their contributions and expenditures in the May polls.

"Roxas and the Liberal Party should not be given any special treatment. Having voluntarily participated in the May 2016 elections, they are expected to strictly comply with the pertinent laws, rules and regulations and deadlines that are implemented and imposed by the Honorable Commission," the letter read.

Senator Grace Poe's lawyer and now Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s legal counsel Atty. George Garcia, likewise, said that the poll body should be strict with the implementation of the deadline.

"Para sa akin bakit yung iba nag-comply? Bakit sila hindi nakapag-file on time. Napaka-unfair din yun, nagsunog din kami ng kilay para matapos on time. Sana mapanindigan din ng Comelec na kapag may period, it is a mandatory period, and no extensions will be allowed," Garcia said.

However, the lawyer said that not allowing LP candidates to sit in office because of the party's failure to submit their SOCE would be too harsh.

"Napaka-unfair naman kung parusahan mo yung kandidato sa kasalanan ng partido. Siguro doon, pwedeng maging lenient ng konti ang Komisyon," Garcia said.

He added that he believes the SOCE requirement would only be applicable to local government units, and not to national positions.

The Comelec has an existing Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which ensures that only winning bets who have filed their SOCE will be able to assume office.

"Dun sa national, very clear ang Constitution. Once na na-proclaim ka at nag-take ka ng oath, then you have to immediately assume office by noon of June 30," Garcia explained.