Rival lawyers agree: Comelec should accept LP’s late SOCE
After squaring off during the canvassing of votes for presidential and vice presidential candidates, rival election lawyers Romulo Macalintal and former Commission on Elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr. both believe that the poll body has to accept the statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) of the Liberal Party (LP) even if it was filed a week after the deadline lapsed.
In a statement, Brillantes said that while Comelec is correct in stating that it has no authority to extend the deadline of the filing of SOCE as mandated by law, it also does not have the authority to refuse acceptance of late SOCE.
“Comelec has no authority under any law to refuse acceptance for the late filing of the SOCE, especially if such late filing will effectively result in the prevention of a winning candidate to assume his office and to enter into the discharge of his duties and functions,” Brillantes said on Twitter.
Instead, Brillantes said that the Comelec should accept the late filing of LP and Mar Roxas’ SOCE and impose the administrative fine mandated by law.
Macalintal echoed Brillantes’ belief that there is no legal basis for the Comelec in refusing LP’s SOCE.
“Nagtataka ako sa Comelec kung bakit ini-insist nila na, ‘Hindi na namin puwedeng tanggapin ang late submission.’ That is wrong. Kasi wala naman ganoong provision sa batas,” the lawyer was quoted as saying in a radio interview.
(I am confused by Comelec’s insistence that it would not accept late submissions of SOCE. That is wrong. There is no provision in the law that states they can do that.)
The statements of the two lawyers came after the Comelec’s campaign office, headed by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, recommended that the SOCE of LP and its standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas should not be accepted.
In the memorandum issued on Wednesday, Lim said that the provision is clear in Republic Act 7166 that the SOCE should be filed 30 days after the elections.
He also said that in the Omnibus Rules on Campaign Finance, the June 8 deadline is “final and non-extendible.”
LP and Roxas’ camp have asked Comelec for a 14-day extension when they failed to meet the deadline. They eventually filed the SOCE last June 14.
During the canvassing, Brillantes was part of the legal team representing defeated vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. while Macalintal was part of the legal team for Vice President-elect Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo. IDL/rga
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