Comelec waives payment of filing fee for disqualification cases

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - To encourage people to hold public officials accountable, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has waived the payment of filing fee for disqualification cases filed against overspending candidates this coming polls.

The Comelec came out with Resolution No. 9629 waiving the P10,000 fee for each petition for disqualification lodged against candidates who violate the limits in campaign expenditures.

“We are serious in implementing the campaign finance rules but we also want the public to take part in it. By waiving the filing fees, we hope to encourage them to really monitor the campaign finance of candidates,” Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim said.

The filing fee is waived for petitions filed by registered voters; registered political parties, organization or coalitions of political parties; non-profit non-government organizations; accredited citizen’s arms and civil society organizations.

The grounds for seeking a candidate’s disqualification include giving money or other material consideration “to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions; violating the limits in campaign expenditures; soliciting, receiving or making prohibited contributions; electioneering; illegally releasing, disbursing or expending any public funds for public works and soliciting votes or doing any propaganda on election day within polling precincts or within a radius of 30 meters.

The Comelec added that the failure of a candidate to submit his statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) in at least two elections is also punishable with “perpetual disqualification to hold public office.”

Under Section 13 of Republic Act 7166 or the law on synchronization of elections, each candidate is allowed to spend only P3 per voter registered in his constituency, plus another P5 from his political party. Independent candidates can spend up to P5 per voter.          

Section 14, on the other hand, stated that all candidates – whether winning or losing– must file the SOCEs within 30 days after election day.

The resolution said that the petition for disqualification may be filed after the last day for filing of certificates of candidacy, but not later than the date of proclamation. 

The Comelec also came out with Resolution 9631, which sought to control the use of color motifs and other “symbolic or graphical representation” associated with a certain candidate.

“Color motif is hereby deleted from Sections 1 (4) and 9 (a),” according to the new resolution amending Resolution 9615.

The poll body has committed to strictly implement the rules on campaign finance to ensure a level playing field among candidates in the May 13 polls, and part of these efforts is to regulate the color motifs of candidates.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, in an earlier interview, could not explain how the use of colors would be controlled.

Under the new resolution, Comelec also removed Section 25 of Resolution 9615, which listed the “prohibited propaganda materials” before the start of the campaign period on Feb. 12 and March 30 for national and local bets.

Included in the list are “names, images, logos, brands, insignias, initials and other forms of identifiable graphical representation placed by incumbent officials on any public structures or places.”

The resolution had also extended the period from 24 to 48 hours within which candidates can invoke their right to reply against any charges or unfavorable article published or aired against them in the mass media.

Teachers’ concern

Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) reiterated its appeal to the Comelec to look into the voters’ registration of teachers and the practice of appointing them as chairmen and members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) because “many were not able to cast their votes.”

The TDC blamed the Comelec and the Department of Education (DepEd)’s practice of appointing teachers in the BEI for the disenfranchisement of many teachers in the 2010 elections, which first used the automated election system (AES).

They said some of them were deactivated for allegedly not casting their votes for two consecutive elections, including 2007 where many of them were unable to vote. – With Pia Lee-Brago



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