MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) cannot reject the late filing of the Liberal Party’s (LP) expenditure report, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said Thursday, saying the party should only be penalized with a fine up to P10,000 for failing to meet the deadline.
Macalintal said the LP’s filing of its statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) was just a “matter of late submission.”
“Wala namang problema iyong late filing. Ang hinihingi ng LP ay extension. Ang sabi ng Comelec, hindi pwedeng extension. Hindi naman actually extension iyan eh. It’s a matter of late submission,” Macalintal said.
“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,” he said.
Macalintal is an election lawyer for Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, and a member of the legal team of LP presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
Macalintal said the fines for the late submission range from P1,000 to 10,000 for the first offense, and P10,000 to 30,000 and disqualification from holding public office for the second offense.
“Nagtataka lang ako kung bakit binibigyan ng napakalaking issue. Eh gayong hindi naman sinasabi na hindi sila mag-fifile,” he said.
Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, who heads the Campaign Finance Office (CFO), has recommended through a memorandum to reject LP and Roxas’ request.
“…the undersigned, in his capacity as commissioner-in-charge of the Campaign Finance Office, respectfully votes to deny the request of the Liberal Party and its presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II, as communicated by Atty. Sardillo,” the document said.
LP and Roxas had earlier asked for a 14-day extension to file their SOCE after they failed to meet the June 8 deadline set by the Comelec. They finally filed their SOCE on June 14.
According to Lim, Republic Act 7166 clearly states that submission of SOCE should be made within 30 days after the elections. He said extension to the deadline means that Comelec should amend the law.
He also said it is stated in the Omnibus Rules on Campaign Finance that the June 8 deadline is “final and non-extendible.”
Lim’s recommendation, however, is not yet final, as the seven-member Comelec en banc will vote on the recommendation on Thursday.(MNS)