The controversy arising from the decision of the Commission on Elections extending the deadline for filing of Statements of Contributions and Expenditures of national candidates in last election is far from over despite a Supreme Court decision to uphold the legality of the Comelec ruling.
During its en banc session last Tuesday, the SC junked the petition filed by retired Army Col. Justino Padiernos of the People’s Freedom Party and lawyer Manuelito Luna of 1-Abilidad party-list on technicality questioning the Comelec grant on the request of the Liberal Party.
But the new administration’s ruling party PDP-Laban has vowed to file another petition before the high court again questioning the legality of the deadline extension.
Lawyer George Garcia, who will represent petitioners including new House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, said they will file the new petition today (Friday).
The SC dismissed the first petition on technicality, citing failure of petitioners to attach a duplicate original or certified copy of the assailed Comelec resolution as required under Section 5, rule 64 of the Rules of Civil Procedures.
Luna said they were surprised by the ground cited by the SC in dismissing their petition, saying they have actually submitted the Comelec resolution last Monday.
“I cannot understand the rationalization of the SC in dismissing the petition. Records show that the petitioners have submitted the certified copy of the assailed resolution of the Comelec,” he said.
“The SC should check its record since we have the evidence of the submission and filing of the resolution. I hope the Court of last resort is not playing politics here,” the lawyer added.
In their petition, Luna and Padiernos argued that the 30-day deadline was set under Republic Act 7166 (Synchronized Local and National Elections and Electoral Reforms Act) and that the poll body “is constitutionally and statutorily mandated to enforce and administer all election laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an
election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall.”
The petitioners alleged that the extension made by Comelec was tantamount “to an impermissible amendment of Section 14 of R.A. 7166,” which prohibits winning candidates of a political party that would fail to meet the deadline set by law to assume their respective posts. Petitioners said that the Comelec decision was “unfair” and has set a bad precedent.
Partymates of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte in the PDP-Laban were set to file a similar petition with the SC as earlier announced by Davao del Norte Rep. and incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Voting 4-3 last June 16, Comelec ruled to grant LP’s motion for extension and moved the deadline to June 30. In explaining the ruling, the poll body has said it was only proper to allow candidates to take their elective posts as doing otherwise would be unfair to voters who gave them the mandate. Commissioner Guanzon said an adjustment in the deadline is allowed under the law, which she branded as procedural.