ELECTIONS Commissioner Christian Robert Lim threatened to resign leadership of the poll body’s Campaign Finance Office on Monday after the controversial extension of the deadline for the submission of statement of campaign expenditures.
“The policy shift is not acceptable,” Lim told reporters in a text message as he confirmed his resignation over the poll body’s decision to extend the deadline as requested by the Liberal Party and presidential candidate Mar Roxas.
“To grant the request for extension would not only be unfair to other candidates and parties who complied within the prescribed period but also would be a reversal of the Commission’s own resolution on the matter,” Lim said, clarifying that he remains a senior commissioner of the agency.
Lim said Republic Act 7166 specifically provides that all candidates should submit their SOCE within 30 days after the elections.
Section 14 of RA 7166 states: “Every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within thirty (30) days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election.
“No person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required.
“The same prohibition shall apply if the political party which nominated the winning candidate fails to file the statement required herein within the period prescribed by this Act.
Lim said the deadline set forth in the law is hard and strict and “the ‘final and non-extendible’ nature of the 08 June 2016 deadline has been emphasized in the second paragraph of Section 2, Rule 10 of the Omnibus Rules on Campaign Finance.”
“It is worthy to note that even presidential candidate, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, was able to comply with the submission of her SOCE through her representative on June 8 despite being on medical leave and her confinement in the Intensive Care Unit of the Makati Medical Center a few days before the deadline,” Lim said.
Yet, the commission en banc allowed the extension with Commissioners Rowena Guanzon, Arthur Lim, Al Pareño and Sheriff Abas voting in favor of the request of LP and Roxas.
While Comelec chairman Andres Bautista and Commissioner Luie Guia joined the firm stance of Lim not to extend the filing of SOCE.
But Bautista said that he may not agree to extend the filing of SOCE, he is in favor of accepting their documents as “late filers” and impose penalties instead.
Based on Comelec data, there are 170 candidates who failed to submit their SOCEs and majority of them lost the election race.
For presidential bid, Roxas is the lone candidate who failed to file his SOCE citing “voluminous number of receipts that have to be scanned and attached to the document.”
Three political parties such as Liberal Party; Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino led by winning Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada; and Aksyon failed to file their SOCEs.
The incoming speaker of the House of Representatives, PDP-Laban secretary-general Davao del Norte Representative-elect Pantaleon Alvarez, said he and his party will challenge the Comelec ruling before the Supreme Court.
The opposition United Nationalist Alliance also decried the Comelec ruling with spokesman Mon Ilagan assailing the Comelec for repeatedly reminding political parties of the June 8 deadline, only to change its mind and let the LP have its way.
“Today, we mourn the passing of the rule of law. Sadly, its final breath was taken away by a democracy-driven institution that is supposed to uphold the highest standard of integrity, impartiality and respect for the rule of law,” he said.
Ilagan said the Comelec has shown its bias for the administration with its granting of the LP request for extension.
Ilagan said the poll body is trying to rationalize the loose principle of vox populi, vox dei as something above the law.
“Comelec may not have noticed, but they just killed the very rule they have raised. And by frequently bending their own rules, they have shown their true colors. They have made their own rules irrelevant, and what they did to accommodate Roxas and LP was completely out of step,” said Ilagan.
“What seems to be clear by now is the wholesale abandonment of the rule of law. The ‘final and non-extendible deadline’ rule stated in Comelec Resolution No. 9991 was a solid en banc decision only to be abandoned by the en banc itself. The sweeping disregard of pertinent laws and rules only shows the Comelec’s biases in favor of the Liberal Party,” he added.
Comelec Resolution No. 9991 affirms that late filing of SOCE amounts to a de-facto non-filing of SOCE, which has the effect of forfeiture of elective posts aside from the hefty penalties that they have to pay, said UNA.