After 2013, poll winners can’t serve without expense report
After the midterm elections next year, no winning local candidates will be allowed to hold public office unless they have filed their statements of campaign contributions and expenditures.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of agreement that would strictly enforce this campaign finance rule starting next year.
The pact covers local elective officials from governor down to members of the city council. Candidates for elective barangay office are exempted from the agreement.
In a press conference, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. explained that under the agreement, a winning candidate will have to present to the DILG a certification from the election body, showing that he or she has complied with the provision under Republic Act No. 7166.
Section 14 of the law requires elective officials to file their statement of campaign contributions and expenditures before being sworn into office.
It states that every candidate and treasurer of a political party shall file with the offices of the Comelec “full, true and itemized” reports of all campaign contributions and expenditures 30 days after election day.
Under the pact signed by the two agencies, “the winning candidate cannot enter into the execution of his or her office” without certification of compliance from the Comelec.
“Before administering an oath of office to any winning candidate or allowing a winning candidate assumption into office, the DILG or any attached agency shall require him or her to present a certification from Comelec that he or she has satisfactorily complied with his or her obligation …” stated the memorandum of agreement.
In forging an agreement with the DILG, Comelec officials admitted that the law had not been faithfully followed in the previous elections.
“The procedure has been vague … sometimes winning candidates would just tell the DILG that they have already filed even if they haven’t and the latter would swear them in,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told reporters in Filipino on Wednesday.
“So what we did was to formalize the procedure so that the certification will be very definite and the Comelec won’t issue a certificate if there is no satisfactory filing [of the needed documents],” said Jimenez.
For his part, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said the pact between his office and the Comelec would hopefully curb blatant and excessive campaign spending by candidates.
The agreement reiterated that failure to file reports of electoral campaign contributions and expenses constitutes an administrative offense with a fine ranging from P1,000 to P30,000.
For second-time offenders, they will be meted an administrative fine from P2,000 to P60,000 and shall be subjected to perpetual disqualification from holding public office.