Belmonte: 10 of 20 solons filed SOCEs

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2013 10:02 PM | Updated as of Dec 17 2013 06:02 AM

MANILA - House Speaker Sonny Belmonte on Monday said 10 of the 20 congressmen who allegedly failed to validly file a statement of contributions and expenses (SOCE) for the midterm election have complied with the requirement.

However, 7 of them had to pay an P8,000 fine each.

Belmonte said he has no information yet on the other 10 congressmen also named by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) but expressed confidence that they will comply with the poll body.

He said he isn't asking anyone to vacate their post over the SOCE because he thinks he has no power to do so as speaker of the House.

Belmonte identified the seven lawmakers who paid fines as Pangalian Balindong, Rodolfo Biazon, Nancy Catamcy, Zenaida Angping, Nelson Collantes, Dong Mendoza, and Arthur Robes.

The others who also complied but didn't pay fines were Salvio Fortuno, Arnulfo Go, and Henry Oaminal.

Belmonte said the 10 were given certificates of compliance by the Comelec.

He said part of the problem is that some of the congressmen used old SOCE forms.

On the other hand, those whose SOCEs were signed by someone else needed to sign another form.

Belmonte said this matter could have been directly addressed by the congressmen and the Comelec without having to go through the Office of the Speaker.

The other congressmen are Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Theresa Bonoan David, Ronald Singson, Tet Garcia, Victoria Sy Alvarado, Eileen Ermita Buhain, Wilfredo Mark Enverga, Romeo Acop, Joel Roy Duavit, and Al Francis Bichara.

Earlier, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said some congressmen were fined for failing to comply with the Comelec's requirement to file valid SOCEs.

The Comelec prescribes penalties of as much P30,000 for failing to comply.

Candidates who fail to comply for 2 elections face perpetual disqualification from public office.

Gonzales supported the 20 lawmakers in criticizing the Comelec for taking to media first before giving the congressmen a chance to correct any defects in their respective SOCEs.

He said the constitution already has prescribed rules for ousting congressmen.

Comelec wanted the 20 to temporarily vacate their posts until they comply with the SOCE requirement.

Singson said the Comelec owes it to the public to correct their earlier pronouncements.

He, however, is not asking for an apology nor is pursuing action against the commission. "I haven't done anything. I didn't do anything wrong," he said.

Singson is baffled he was included in the Comelec's list, noting that records would show he complied with all the Comelec's requirements regarding his SOCE.

He believes the Comelec's Manila office committed an error.

Oaminal, meanwhile, said that while he didn't sign the first SOCE he filed, he addressed the deficiency by submitting a SOCE he signed himself before assuming office on July 1, 2013.

He said the inclusion of his name caused negative publicity. He has written to the Comelec to make the clarification.

Balindong, on the other hand, delivered a privilege speech on his inclusion in the Comelec's list, maintaining he complied with Comelec requirements.

He also criticized Comelec for allegedly failing to give congressmen a chance to be heard by the poll body.