THE Commission on Elections on Thursday granted the request of the Liberal Party and its losing presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II to extend the filing of statement of campaign expenditures until June 30.
Meeting as a group and voting 4-3, the commission decided to allow three political parties, one presidential candidate; 15 senatorial bets, 115 congressional bets, and 40 candidates for governor another 14 days to file their Statement of Campaign and Expenditures or SOCE.
“Four [of our commissioners voted] extending up to June 40 in view of the need to avoid the fallout of a different outcome, and three voted not to extend it,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told the reporters.
He made his statement even as outgoing Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. expressed hope that the Comelec would be able to come up with a favorable ruling on the campaign expenditure report of the LP that was submitted past deadline.
He said it was “unfortunate” that the LP failed to comply with the prescribed date of filing.
“But anyway, it can still be appealed,” Belmonte said.
During the special en banc session, Jimenez said, Comelec commissioners Rowena Guanzon, Arthur Lim, Al Pareño and Sheriff Abas favored the request of the LP and Roxas to avoid the negative implications if winning candidates could not assume office simply because they or their political parties failed to submit their SOCEs on time.
But Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and Commissioner Luie Guia joined the firm stance of campaign and finance office chief Christian Robert Lim not to extend the filing of SOCE.
“The problem is you will defeat essentially the voice of the voters because these candidates were voted by the people. And then suddenly you will not allow them to assume their positions simple because they failed to submit their SOCE,” Jimenez said.
“To a certain extent, they weigh down the evil that you wanted to prevent by forcing them to file a SOCE versus the evil that may be created if they failed to file.”
Lim had earlier maintained that the June 8 deadline for SOCE filing was “final and non-extendable.”
Guia and Bautista agreed.
But Bautista said he may not agree to extend the filing of the SOCE, but he favored accepting their documents as “late filers” and impose penalties.
Jimenez said the majority of the candidates failed to file their SOCEs on time due to the “complexity of the process” of submission that they had introduced.
“So a lot of the people who were requesting for the extension in the previous elections were citing difficulties for example in the BIR requirements. Some of them were citing difficulties with the documentation requirements,” Jimenez said.
He added that the LP’s and Roxas’ request for extension was “meritorious” or “worthy of consideration”.
Only the LP and Roxas requested for extension.
Base on Comelec data, there were 170 candidates who failed to submit their SOCEs and the majority of them lost the election.
Roxas is the lone candidate for president who failed to file his SOCE, citing “voluminous number of receipts that have to be scanned and attached to the document”.