By Rey Anthony Chiu | 12:20 PM May 15, 2022
A Commission on Election (Comelec) official in Bohol urges winning or losing candidates in the 2022 local and national elections to immediately file their Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) relative to the campaign and other election related expenses.
Comelec Provincial Election Supervisor Atty. Eddie Aba, in a media interview said failure do so, constitutes an election offense that can have devastating effects to one’s political career.
We have seen officials already sitting and proclaimed who are evicted from their seats and divested of their powers for failure to file or files with erroneous information in their SOCE, Aba pointed out in a pull-aside interview, canvassing day.
Section 14 of RA 7166 states: every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within thirty (30) days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election.
No person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required, the Comelec added.
And while it is true to all candidates, whether with a party or running independent, it is also true to losing candidates to file the statement required within the required period.
In fact, regardless of the election results, even if the candidates or parties did not receive any contribution or spend, they are still obliged to submit their SOCEs reflecting such fact.
The city or municipal election registrars are to write, by personal delivery or registered mail, within five days from election date, all candidates residing in his jurisdiction to comply with their obligation to file their statements of contributions and expenditures.
The Comelec said “contribution” is a gift, donation, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of money or anything of value, or a contract, promise or agreement to contribute, to influence the results of the elections.
It also includes use of facilities voluntarily donated by other persons, the money value of which can be assessed based on the rates prevailing in the area, according to the elections authority.
However, for voluntary services rendered without compensation by individuals giving out a portion or all of their time in behalf of a candidate or political party, this is not counted as contribution.
On the other hand, expenditure includes the payment or delivery of money of anything of value, or a contract, promise or agreement to make to influence the results of the election.
This includes the use of facilities personally owned by the candidate, the money value of the use of which can be assessed based on the rates prevailing in the area.
As to the poll body, filing of the SOCE exempts candidates for elective barangay office.
However, failure to file the statements or reports in connection with electoral contributions and expenditures mean administrative offense where offenders are liable for administrative fines ranging from P1,000 to P30,000, in the discretion of the Commission and payable within 30 days from receipt of notice of such failure.
For the commission of a second or subsequent offense, the administrative fine becomes P2,000 to P60,000, in the discretion of the Commission, plus perpetual disqualification to hold public office proceedings for the offender. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)