424 elected candidates ordered to vacate post-A A +A
Thursday, December 12, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered a total of 424 elected officials, including 20 lawmakers, four governors and 26 mayors, to temporarily vacate their post following their failure to submit their Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (Soce) after the midterm polls last May.
Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes said the poll body's en banc this week ruled that these 424 winning candidates have either failed to submit reports on their donors and expenditures within deadline and according to the prescribed forms.
The latest report by the Comelec’s Campaign Finance Steering Committee headed by Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim stated that these officials must temporarily vacate their post until they formally settle their respective cases with the poll body.
Among those included were 169 from the ruling Liberal Party, 44 from the National Unity Party (NUP) that is allied with the administration, nine candidates from the Nacionalista Party (NP), 33 independent candidates, 31 from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), 29 from the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), and 17 from the Lakas-CMD.
Brillantes disclosed that 155 did not file Soces at all, while 269 others submitted deficient Soces, triggering the steering committee to consider these as “not filed” at all.
He noted that the winning candidates have been given 30 days after the election to file their respective Soces but it seems that there are still many who did not abide with the resolution.
“We’ve been given them so much enough time. Thirty days after the elections ay napakahabang period na para asikasuhin nila ang kanilang mga Soce, pero eto magpapasko na pero wala pa rin dumarating sa amin. Magpapasko na, kung tutuusin ayaw naming gawin ‘to ngayon pero talagang we have given them so much time,” Brillantes said.
He mentioned that the Comelec has entered into an agreement with the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo sometime in 2012, seeking all elected government officials for 2013 midterm polls to properly file the Soce or else not permitted to assume their posts.
“We are just implementing the Memorandum of Agreement with the DILG… and pumirma sila na hindi sila papaupuin sa kanilang pwesto kapag hinde nila na-file ang kanilang Soce,” Brillantes explained.
In the resolution released by the en banc, the four governors that must temporarily vacate their offices because of Soce deficiency are Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson (NP), Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr. (NPC), Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito (UNA), and Batangas Governor Rosa Vilma Santos-Recto (LP).
Brillantes said that Espino did not submit his Soce while younger Singson and Santos-Recto have filed but not "according to the prescribed form." Meanwhile, Ejercito submitted only three of the 10 annexes that compose the Soce.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said his wife filed her Soce way before the June 6 deadline using the prescribed form.
He said the Comelec-Batangas, which issued a certificate of compliance, was "shocked and surprised" about the development.
"We reviewed just now all the documents we filed and we do not see any mistakes. If there are any mistakes, the Comelec should have informed us so that we can rectify any error, if there’s any," said Recto.
Also included in the 155 who did not file their Soces are four congressmen who are the administration allies and these are Manila Representative Trisha Bonoan-David and Bulacan Representative Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado of NUP; and Camarines Sur Representative Sal Fortuno, and Lanao del Sur Representative Pangalian Balindong of LP.
Brillantes added that the rest of the 269 candidates who filed deficient Soces failed to either personally sign their Soce or use the prescribed forms, in violation of the provisions of Comelec Resolution 9476 or the campaign finance rules issued on June 22, 2012.
Among those were former president and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Lakas-CMP and Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon of LP who is among the 104 candidates who did not personally sign their Soces.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte immediately called the members of the House of Representatives who were ordered to leave their posts by the Comelec to fix the matter immediately.
Belmonte said two of the three who allegedly did not pass their election expense report were Trisha Bonoan-David (NUP) of the fourth district of Manila and Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (NUP) of Bulacan.
“I have called the two and they claimed nagpasa na sila. Baka may problema sa Comelec,” Belmonte said.
Belmonte added that Alvarado told him that she was not able to pass her Soce because the “Comelec is having a party.”
The House Speaker said he would give the 20 members until Monday to comply with the requirements for the filing of their Soces.
According to Republic Act 7166 or the Synchronized Elections Law, all candidates are required to file “full, true, and itemized Soces within 30 days after election."
The law also states that winning candidates will not be allowed to assume office until they have submitted their Soces.
“Once they have settled their issues, they can assume their posts again,” Brillantes said. (Virgil Lopez/Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)