MANILA - Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto on Thursday said she followed election laws and has documents to prove it after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ordered her and more than 400 other elected officials to step down from their posts for their alleged failure to submit their statements of contributions and expenditures (SOCEs).
The Comelec said the officials must vacate their posts until they present these documents and pay fines.
Santos-Recto, upon being informed of the issue, immediately went to the Comelec office in Batangas and presented her SOCE.
"I filed my SOCE. In fact, I have my certificate of compliance. June 6 yun. Nauna pa ako sa lahat na nagpasa at sa deadline," she said.
The governor also lamented the Comelec's move to hold a press conference first, instead of calling her attention.
"Napanood ko na lang na may presscon. I called my lawyer if may natanggap bang sulat, wala. We didn't receive any," she said.
According to the Comelec main office, the actress-turned-politician used a wrong form and only the treasurer of her political party signed the document.
However, an official at the Comelec in Batangas defended Santos-Recto.
"Proper form naman ito kasi nakalagay naman lahat ng info na kailangan. Nakasulat din sa resolution na pwede namang pumirma ang party treasurer sa SOCE," said Comelec Batangas Electiion Assistant II Marvin Alcantara.
Aside from Santos-Recto, the other officials tagged by the Comelec include Gov. ER Ejercito of Laguna, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Luis Singson, and Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino Jr.
"Hindi ho sana namin gustong gawin 'to pero talagang late na nga ho kame. It's already December, and we have to come out with this listing kase matatagal na hong nakaupo itong mga ito," Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said. "Nag-assume ito ng June 30 pero dapat hindi dapat, kasi wala pa silang SOCE na validly submitted."
The 422 elected officials also include Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, who belongs to President Aquino's Liberal Party.
The poll body said the election law requires elected officials to file their SOCEs or they can't assume their posts.
"In the meantime, where there is no succession, there will be a temporary vacancy. Kagaya sa congressman, walang succession iyan eh," Brillantes said.
"Kung governor ang hindi nag-file, eh di yung vice-governor will act in the meantime until compliance is made. Mayor, vice-mayor," he added.
He said there's also a remedy -- officials just have to pay administrative fines.
"Di namin masiguro exact figure, pero depende sa posisyon. Kung minsan, may P3,000 lang iyung mabababa. Iung malalaki depende, kung gaano katagal nag-delay," he said.
The Comelec is now waiting for the elected officials or their lawyers to make the necessary remedies for their SOCEs. - with ANC