‘More politicians likely to file SOCE late’

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – More candidates in future elections are likely to file their statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) late as a result of a ruling by the Commission on Elections favoring the administration Liberal Party (LP), a former Comelec chief warned yesterday.

Sixto Brillantes said the poll body has set a bad precedent in allowing an extension of the deadline for filing the SOCE without imposing penalties.

“Now, who is going to believe in the deadline that the Comelec will set in the next elections? Nobody. They will just think that they can just ask for an extension,” Brillantes explained.

He said the negative effect of the Comelec decision is that in future elections, many politicians will also request for an extension and just cite the case of the Liberal Party (LP).

“They will simply use the reasoning that the Comelec granted the request of the LP in 2016. Why not us?” Brillantes pointed out.

The Comelec previously voted to extend the period of SOCE filing from June 8 to June 30 upon the request of the LP, which failed to meet the original deadline.

LP presidential candidate Manuel Roxas also failed to submit the required SOCE on time.

But Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said this is not the first time that the poll body allowed an extension in the deadline for SOCE filing.

In the last 2013 elections under Brillantes, Jimenez said, the poll body also extended the deadline for SOCE filing.

“As far as precedents go, the precedent is actually on the side of the extension. There are a lot of precedents for the extension,” Jimenez noted.

The extension was ordered despite the existing law requiring candidates and political parties to file SOCEs 30 days after the day of the election.

However, Brillantes said although the Comelec then allowed an extension, they also ordered the imposition of penalties for late filers.

“In their decision now, they did not impose any penalties on late filers. It’s like they are forgiving the late filers altogether,” Brillantes said.

He said the Comelec should have allowed late filing with the imposition of administrative fines.

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