400 elected officials asked to vacate posts
Over 400 elected officials must vacate their posts for failing to file their expenditures in the 2013 national elections, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said yesterday.
The list includes 12 city and town councilors from Cebu, including Danao City and ex-officio Provincial Board Member Ivy Durano Meca. (See box).
At least 20 congressmen, four governors, and 26 mayors were identified in the Comelec en banc ruling as among those who failed to submit reports on their donors and expenditures within deadline and according to the prescribed forms.
In a press briefing, Brillantes said the officials, which included 169 from the Liberal Party (LP) and 44 from the National Union Party (NUP) which is allied with the LP should stay out from office until they have submitted their Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditure (SOCE).
Among the officials who failed to comply with the filing rules of the statement on campaign expenditures were 20 lawmakers, including former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, and local officials such as Governors Vilma Santos of Batangas and E.R. Ejercito of Laguna.
Republic Act No. 7166 or the Synchronized Elections Law requires all candidates and political parties to file with Comelec full, true and itemized SOCEs within 30 days after election day. The law also states that winning candidates will not be allowed to assume office until they have submitted their SOCEs.
In letters sent Wednesday, Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim asked Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II to order the 20 representatives and 404 local officials to vacate their respective posts until they have fully complied with the law on filing of SOCEs.
Lim, chairperson of the Comelec Campaign Finance Unit (CFU) Ad Hoc Steering Committee, also furnished Belmonte and Roxas separate lists of the 424 officials under their administrative supervision and the CFU’s findings on the deficiencies in their SOCE submissions.
So far, the CFU has only reviewed the SOCEs and has yet to assess the veracity of information placed in the documents.
Brillantes said the Comelec signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on March 2012 requiring all local candidates to furnish DILG a copy of certification that they have duly submitted their SOCEs.
Without the SOCE, he said, local officials were not supposed to take their oaths of office.
The five-page MOA states that “before administering an oath of office to any winning candidate or allowing a winning candidate assumption into office, the DILG or any of its attached agencies shall require him or her to present a Certification from the Comelec that he or she have satisfactorily complied with his or her obligation under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166 by filing his or her Statement of Contributions and Expenditures with the Comelec. Absent this Certification, the winning candidate cannot enter into the execution of his or her office pursuant to Paragraph 2 of the same provision of law.”
According to a Comelec CFU lawyer, some winning candidates had actually requested a certification from Comelec field offices, but the CFU is not aware if DILG has enforced the MOA and refused the assumption of a winning candidate without the certification./Inquirer with inputs Dale Israel and PCIJ
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