MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has moved to penalize a total of 460 candidates, including former Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, for failing to declare their campaign expenses in previous elections.
Aside from Osmeña, who is running in next year’s midterm elections, a certain Hussein Albani also did not submit his statements of contributions and expenses (SOCE) after his failed senatorial bid in 2010 and 2016, according to a list the poll body released Tuesday.
The rest of the candidates on the list ran for local positions, and more than half of them went for mostly city council seats in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Candidates who twice fail to file their campaign expense reports will be fined and subjected to “perpetual disqualification” from holding any public office, according to the Philippines’ strict synchronized elections law.
Osmeña earlier told ABS-CBN News that the law should be amended, describing it as “stupid.”
The former senator admitted paying a fine for filing his expense report late in 2010.
But he insisted that the first offense should not be counted as “non-filing” because it was a “late filing.”
“Late filing is different from non-filing,” he argued.
The Comelec’s campaign finance office said Osmeña’s two violations showed he was “making a mockery of our election process” and deserved the “utmost and severest administrative penalty under the law.”
Veteran election lawyer George Garcia on Tuesday said the strict provision on campaign expense reporting need not be amended.
“It may be harsh but what can we do? That is the law,” he told ABS-CBN News.
“Bakit tayo magagalit kapag pinapatupad nang maayos at strict ang batas? Ang tamang solusyon mo na lang diyan is not perhaps to amend the law, but to comply with the law.”
(Why should we get angry when a law is being promptly and strictly implemented? The right solution there is not perhaps to amend the law, but to comply with the law.)