SC upholds Comelec resolution extending SOCE submission

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has junked a petition seeking to void a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling granting the Liberal Party’s request for an extension of the deadline for filing of Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).

In session yesterday, the SC justices decided to dismiss outright on technicality the petition filed last week by retired Army Col. Justino Padiernos of the People’s Freedom Party and lawyer Manuelito Luna of 1-Abilidad party-list.

They cited the failure of petitioners to attach a duplicate original or certified copy of the Comelec resolution in question as required under section 5, rule 64 of the Rules of Civil Procedures.

“Petitioners merely submitted news reports in lieu of the required number of the assailed resolution. As petitioner failed to state the exact date of promulgation of the assailed resolution, the averments regarding the timeliness of petition are also defective,” read the dispositive portion of the ruling.

“We remind petitioners that this Court cannot act upon a petition for certiorari that does not contain the assailed issuances and wholly relies upon printed news accounts. In sum, the failure of the instant petition to comply with these basic requirements constitutes a sufficient reason for its dismissal,” the Court stressed.

Petitioners submitted the Comelec resolution only last Monday afternoon.

In their petition, Padiernos and Luna argued that the 30-day deadline was set under Republic Act 7166 (Synchronized Local and National Elections and Electoral Reforms Act) and that the poll body “is constitutionally and statutorily mandated to enforce and administer all election laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum and recall.”

They alleged that the extension made by Comelec was tantamount “to an impermissible amendment of Section 14 of RA 7166,” which prohibits winning candidates of a political party that would fail to meet the deadline set by law to assume their respective posts.

Petitioners further said that the Comelec decision was “unfair” and has set a bad precedent.

Partymates of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte in the PDP-Laban were set to file a similar petition with the SC as earlier announced by Davao del Norte Rep.-elect and incoming House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Voting 4-3 last June 16, Comelec ruled to grant LP’s motion for extension and moved the deadline to June 30.

In explaining the ruling, the poll body said it was only proper to allow candidates to take their elective posts, as doing otherwise would be unfair to voters who gave them the mandate. Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said an adjustment in the deadline is allowed under the law, as it is only procedural.   

“I’m glad because we have to move on because the SC is the final arbiter. If the court found that we did not gravely abuse our discretion, that should be happy news for all of us,” Guanzon told reporters. – With Sheila Crisostomo

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