Friday ∗ 10 Jun 2016

COMELEC rules, the Liberal Party, #mediacrisis

It seems important not to let this pass. Tuesday, June 8, was the deadline for all those who ran for public office to submit their Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) to COMELEC. The Liberal Party has missed its deadline, and is asking for a 14-day extension. As per COMELEC rules:

The 08 June 2016 deadline shall be final and non-extendible. Submissions beyond this period shall not be accepted. COMELEC Resolutions Nos. 9849 and 9873, Minute Resolutions Nos. 13-0775 and 13-0823 are hereby repealed, insofar as they allowed the belated submission, amendmentand/or correction of campaign finance disclosure statements and reports and the imposition of late penalties for the 2013 National and Local Elections. [n]

According to the statement from the Liberal Party, their problem is the number of receipts.

A request for extension was sent to Comelec today, asking for an additional 14 days within which to complete the filing for Mar Roxas and the Liberal Party. The primary reason is the voluminous number of receipts that have to be scanned and attached to the document, in compliance with the rules and in the interest of complete transparency.

Yet the Liberal Party is the only one that has asked for an extension; Mar Roxas the only presidential candidate who has been unable to submit his SOCE.

Media coverage has been the kindest. In the first news articles that came out on this bit of news, no one mentions the COMELEC rule about the deadline being final and non-extendible. Not CNN Philippines, not GMA News, not the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Later in the evening though, GMA News came out with a second article saying VP Robredo’s in a “state of limbo,” given this late filing, where it mentions that the deadline is final.

A curious case is ABS-CBN News, which has / had (?) an article with the headline “LP fails to submit SOCE; Leni’s fate in peril” which as of June 10, 1:24AM, is a dead link. What is up is an article with the same photograph that has the Liberal Party lawyer Romeo Macalintal saying that Leni’s fate is NOT in peril.

“The case is a simple case of late filing and not non-filing. So, (it’s) premature (to say they will not assume office) because elected officials will assume office on June 30, and by that time, the SOCE of LP (has) already (been) filed,” Macalintal explained, adding that there is no law prohibiting the late filing of SOCE.

Two other things in COMELEC Rule 10. First,

Section 5. Effect of Failure to File Statement – Persons elected to any public office shall not enter upon the duties of their office until they have filed their Statements of Contributions and Expenditures with the relevant Schedules and supporting documents, in accordance with the formal requirements set by these Rules.

Rules which say that the deadline is final and not-extendible.

And second,

The same prohibition shall apply if the party which nominated the winning candidate had failed to file its Statement of Contributions and Expenditures as required herein within thirty (30) days from the conduct of election. [RA 7166, Secs. 14]

So I don’t know what rules Atty. Macalintal is looking at, and maybe I’m looking at the wrong COMELEC rules? but this has nothing to do with whether or not any of LP’s winning candidates are assuming office on June 30.

The Liberal Party is required by the rules to submit 30 days AFTER the elections, and the Liberal Party is required to submit its SOCE on June 8 — a deadline that is not-extendible, and which is final.  

But of course the COMELEC, as per Andres Bautista, is going to “discuss” it. Because when it needs to, it will change the rules for the Liberal Party.

For everyone else, including the public, the rules are king and cannot be questioned, and there are no excuses. COMELEC will abide by these rules, and will be blind to everything else, including cases of electoral fraud and irregularities, because “the public” have no proof, their experiences are nothing, and the experience of one, two, a hundred, a thousand, just don’t matter.

Ah, elections on #DaangMatuwid. Even the spin continues beyond the deadline.

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