Poll lawyer questions SOCE requirement

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal yesterday questioned the legality of the Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s requirement for all candidates in the last elections to submit a statement of contributions and expenses (SOCE).

Macalintal said the poll body should not mandate candidates to submit SOCE that is not provided under the law.

“Perhaps it would be wise to ask what is the authority of the (Comelec) to prescribe such complicated and burdensome submission of SOCE when all that is required by law is that the SOCE shall be in duplicate containing full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in the election,” Macalintal said.

He stressed that the law does not even require a candidate or political party to submit “unpaid contributions,” but the Comelec now requires the same. 

He said while the Comelec has the power to promulgate rules to implement the law, the rules must comply with the provisions of the law it is implementing. 

“For sure, Comelec cannot prescribe what the law does not provide,” Macalintal said.

After the elections, both winners and losers in the 2016 elections have to prepare and submit SOCE detailing how much contributions they received and the actual expenses they incurred.

Macalintal said candidates might engage the services of one who has knowledge in information technology (IT) because the Comelec requires all SOCE to be machine-readable.

“It means that the electronic copies of prescribed forms for 2016 SOCEs are now available online through the Comelec website. Gone are the days when candidates merely submit handwritten SOCEs without supporting official documents or receipts showing expenses, names of donors and amount of contributions,” he noted. 

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