TO QUIBBLE about the sacredness of a deadline is to completely miss the point. The deadline for the submission of Soce (Statement of Contributions and Expenses) is not set for its own sake but so the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can determine posthaste if a candidate has exceeded the legal election spending limits. The strictness should, therefore, focus on the legal spending limit not on the deadline although this should also not be extended indefinitely.

I agree with Comelec’s reason for extending the deadline. People have been duly elected and should not be prevented from assuming office on a mere technicality. Procedural deadlines should not be allowed to override the people’s majority vote.

What should trump the people’s will is violation of legal limits to election spending. A violator of this law should be removed from office for the reason that he deceived voters into thinking he is a law-abiding citizen when in fact he is not and, therefore, not fit for public office.

Currently, the law on election spending limits is honored more in the violation than in the compliance. Everybody knows many, if not all, candidates regularly and routinely get away with campaign overspending. Yet, how many have so far been disallowed to assume their positions for overspending? Nada. So, why the grandstanding on a lousy deadline?

Political gimmickry has to be suspected of people who fuss over the technicality of a deadline. Comelec indeed must insist that Soce’s are submitted but only because they need to check on the veracity of these statements without delay.

I dread what I suspect that PDP-Laban might be questioning Comelec’s extension of the deadline in order to prevent Leni Robredo from assuming office and let Bongbong Marcos (BBM) in instead. It would be very disrespectful of the people’s will (that elected Leni) for PDP-Laban to allow a procedural technicality and perhaps Duterte’s friendship with BBM to trump the people’s choice.

A law is a law, yes. But first things first. Those who overspent should be disqualified first and foremost and not those who simply failed to meet a deadline.

Our problem is not procedure but content. By harping on procedure we have opened ourselves to the ridiculous possibility of an over-spending candidate assuming office because he met the deadline and an under-spending candidate not assuming office because he did not, even if for a valid reason.

Until such time that Comelec is really able to strictly enforce the law limiting campaign expenses, disallowing winners to assume office for not meeting the deadline is to miss the point so very badly. The point, which so far has been so conveniently neglected, is to remove from office those who exceeded legal spending limits.