Election lawyer: Comelec order violated due process
Louis Bacani (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2013 - 11:24am

MANILA, Philippines - There was no due process when the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ordered 422 winning poll candidates to vacate their positions for the alleged deficiencies in their Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCEs), an election lawyer said.

In an interview over radio dzMM, lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the Comelec should have notified the affected incumbent officials first before the poll body informed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the House Speaker of the matter.

"Para sa akin, ang dapat sana ay hindi sa DILG sumulat o kaya sa Kongreso kung hindi sa individual candidates para nandoon yung tinatawag nating due process," Macalintal said.

Under the Synchronized Election Law, the 422 officials who were elected in the May 2013 polls should not assume office until they submit the appropriate SOCEs and necessary documents, according to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.

Related stories: Comelec asks GMA, Vilma Santos to vacate posts | 20 lawmakers, 4 govs told to vacate posts

Through written letters dated November 27, the Comelec requested the assistance of the DILG and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. in ordering the officials to vacate their positions.

"They are supposed to notify these incumbent officials who have assumed erroneously and tell them to vacate their positions in the meantime that they are complying with the requirements," Brillantes said on Thursday.

But Belmonte said he only learned about the letter on Thursday, the same day when the Comelec announced its order to the 422 officials in a press conference.

Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto, one of the officials asked to step down, denied failing to submit the proper SOCE, saying she even received a certificate of compliance from the Comelec office in her province.

She said they were surprised by the announcement since there was no letter or notification from the poll body regarding her deficiencies.

"If there was a problem they should have informed me so that I could make the necessary correction,” she said.

Brillantes said they announced the order on Thursday since they just recently completed the list of officials with issues in their SOCEs.

BATANGAS GOVERNOR VILMA SANTOS-RECTO BRILLANTES BUT BELMONTE COMELEC COMELEC CHAIRMAN SIXTO BRILLANTES JR. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT HOUSE SPEAKER HOUSE SPEAKER FELICIANO BELMONTE OFFICIALS ROMULO MACALINTAL
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