Poll exec quits over Soce deadline extension
STUNG by the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to extend the deadline for the submission of campaign expense reports, Election Commissioner Christian Robert Lim on Monday filed his irrevocable resignation as head of the poll body’s campaign finance office.
Lim said the extension of the deadline was illegal and that changing it constituted an amendment in the law by Congress.
“For the record, it’s illegal. If you look at the law, it specifies that the filing of Soce (statement of contributions and expenditures) must be within 30 days [after Election Day],” Lim told reporters on Friday.
“For me it is just so frustrating. Maybe, [the en banc] wants to take a different policy, a policy shift. Then maybe they should be the ones to run the office,” he added.
Lim said he was disappointed that the groundwork they had laid out in 2011 to ensure the law would be implemented to the letter on the submission of the Soce by election candidates and political parties had been brushed off because of the decision.
“We started it in 2011, baby steps then bigger steps in 2016. Now it’s back to zero,” Lim said.
“Even in 2013, I was fighting for non-extendible rule but the en banc did not approve that’s why there was late penalty. But 2013 was just experimental and 2016 was the culmination. All our efforts went to waste,” he added.
Last week, the Comelec voted 4-3 in favor of the petition of the Liberal Party and its standard-bearer, Mar Roxas, to extend the deadline of the filing of the Soce to June 30. Roxas missed the June 8 deadline.
The commissioners who voted in favor of the extension of Soce filing were Rowena Guanzon, Arthur Lim, Al Parreño and Sheriff Abas. Those who voted against it were Lim, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista and Luie Guia.
In 2013, the Comelec also extended the filing of the Soce but imposed penalties on candidates and political parties that filed beyond the original deadline.
Also yesterday, a newly formed group, Liga ng Eksplosibong Pagbabago Inc., filed a petition urging the Comelec to strike out from its records all campaign expense reports that have been filed late.
“The wisdom behind the deadline system is noble and sincere… delays mean more opportunities to concoct fabrications. Longer delays breed corruption resulting in reports that are too preposterous to inspire belief,” said the petition filed by the group’s representative, Myrleon Estrella Peralta.
The group said extending the deadline of the filing of Soce was a violation of the Comelec’s own rules, which was tantamount to betrayal of public trust, a ground for impeachment under the Constitution.
“Those responsible and culpable for accepting late Soces are res ipsa loquitur guilty beyond any shadow of doubt of betrayal of public trust and must therefore face impeachment charges,” the group said. TVJ
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