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Deadline ends, audit starts for campaign expense reports

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Four more senatorial candidates beat yesterday’s deadline for the filing of Statements of Contributions and Expenses (SOCE) imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

This brings to seven the number of senatorial candidates who have complied with the filing of the SOCE.

The other day, senators-elect Grace Poe and Nancy Binay filed their SOCEs before the poll body, while Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV filed his on Tuesday.

The four who submitted their SOCEs yesterday were Christian Señeres, Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Ramon Montaño.

The Comelec has given itself six months to audit the documents filed by the candidates.

Twenty-six party-list groups have also filed their SOCEs. They are A AMOVER, AASENSO, AANGAT TAYO, ABA, ABAKADA ABONO, AGBIAG TIMPUYOG ILOCANO INC., AGHAM, ANGKLA, ANG NARS, AKO, ANG MATA’Y ALAGAAN, ANAC-IP, ANAKPAWIS, BANTAY, BUTIL FARMER, COCOFED, GREENFORCE, PARTIDO DEMOKRATIKO-SOSYALISTA NG PILIPINAS, SENIOR CITIZENS, UNIMAD, YACAP, 1-AALALAY, 1-ABILIDAD, 1-BAP and 1-SAGIP.

Among the political parties, only the United Nationalist Alliance has filed a SOCE.

Comelec Law Department Director Esmeralda Ladra said they intend to finish auditing the SOCEs in six months’ time with the help of Comelec employees who have background in commerce and mathematics.

The personnel will be trained on how to scrutinize the SOCE.

“We have also received voluntary offers from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, non-governmental organizations and the Namfrel. They want to help,” she said.

The Comelec will also deputize the Bureau of Internal Revenue and other concerned government agencies to help audit the SOCEs.

Ladra said through auditing they would know if the candidates declared the actual contributions and expenses that they received and incurred during the campaign period.

The Comelec can do this by comparing the candidates’ declarations with those filed by media organizations that published or aired their campaign propaganda, and from the service providers that they tapped like the printing companies.

Ladra warned that those who would be found to have fabricated their SOCE face perjury charges.

Failure to file the documents, on the other hand, is tantamount to committing an election offense.

She said this is the first time that the Comelec would look into the entries in the SOCE.

“As far as I know, this is the first time that we are doing such an audit. Before, we were just monitoring whether they filed their SOCEs or not. But now, we are strictly implementing our rules,” she said.

BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE CHRISTIAN SE COMELEC COMELEC LAW DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR ESMERALDA LADRA FILED GRACE POE AND NANCY BINAY INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM JUAN PONCE ENRILE JR. LADRA
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