‘Vacate your post’

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Friday, December 13, 2013

FOR failure to submit their statement of contributions and expenditures (Soce), 12 councilors from two towns and two cities in Cebu were told by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to vacate their posts.

Comelec ordered at least 422 recently elected officials to vacate their offices for failure to submit their Soces.

These include congressmen, governors, mayors, vice mayors and councilors of different provinces.

In Cebu, 11 are Liberal party allies, while one ran as an independent candidate.

In the Comelec list are Danao City Councilors Jed Almendras, John Cane, Cynthia Duterte, Jove Enriquez, Celso Meca, Roland Reyes, Jojo Roble and Carmen Remedios Durano-Meca, an ex-officio member of the Provincial Board.

Other councilors named by Comelec are Editha Cabahug and Tony Dabon of Mandaue City, Rodrigo Sinoy of Tabogon town and Louwela Pacilan, who ran as an independent in Santa Fe.

According to Comelec, Pacilan did not personally sign her Soce.

The Comelec required winning and non-winning candidates to file their Soce 30 days after the May 13 elections. After having met this requirement, the candidate would be issued a certificate of compliance.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) would need the certificate of Soce compliance before winners could assume office.

Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, chairperson of campaign finance steering committee, wrote DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas last Nov. 27 and asked that the law be implemented.

The Comelec entered a memorandum of agreement with the DILG in March 2012 to implement Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166.

Lim informed Roxas to order all the officials whose names appeared in the Comelec list to temporarily vacate their office.

In an interview, Danao City Councilor Cane said eight of the councilors in Danao have submitted their Soces on time to the Comelec field office in Danao.

He said Comelec-Danao has not informed them that there was a problem with their Soce compliance.

In Mandaue City, Election Officer Anna Fleur Gujilde told Sun.Star Cebu by text that both Dabon and Cabahug had promptly filed their Soces.

Dabon, in a phone interview, said he has a copy of his Soce marked received by Comelec Mandaue. Cabahug could not be reached through her mobile number.

Gujilde said she will write Comelec about Dabon’s and Cabahug’s compliance.

Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said he had talked to Danao City Election officer Ian Marigomen about this.

He said Marigomen had mail the Soces in a bunch, including those of the eight officials, to Comelec-Manila.

Castillano said Marigomen received a registry receipt number for that transaction.

A Comelec officer should send in return an acknowledgement letter as proof that he received what was delivered, as a formal way of communicating, Castillano said.

But considering that Comelec Manila received many Soces from the different provinces this was hardly done, he said.

“The records of the election officer are the best evidence to show that the particular winning candidate has filed his Soce,” he said.

Castillano said the officials mentioned may file a motion for reconsideration with the Comelec en banc.

Cebu Provincial DILG Director Jerome Gonzales said they have yet to receive an advisory on the implementation of the order. FMG/RSB

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 13, 2013.

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