Speculations came out that Vice President-elect Leni Robredo is disqualified from her post due to Liberal Party’s non-compliance with COMELEC policy, but is she really disqualified?
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) set the deadline for the filing of the candidates’ Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) on June 8. However, LP, along with their standard bearer Mar Roxas, failed to file their expense report on the said date. This is what prompted some people to speculate that Robredo is disqualified from her elected position as vice president.
However, Robredo’s lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, explained that the vice president-elect can still assume office despite the LP’s delay in filing their SOCE because Robredo has already submitted her own SOCE.
“The will of the people cannot be set aside on mere misdoing or omission of the political party, which nominated a winning candidate,” he said in a statement.
He is referring to Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166, which states that:
“No person elected to any public offices shall enter upon duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required.
The same prohibition shall apply if the political party which nominated the winning candidate fails to file the statement required herein within the period prescribed by this Act.”
Macalintal noted that this law prohibiting a winning candidate from assuming office because his or her party failed to file the SOCE is “of doubtful constitutionality,” citing that it “violates the bill of rights provision that no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty or property without due process of law or without having been heard.”
Moreover, Macalintal reasoned that LP and Roxas simply have a “case of late-filing,” not ‘nonfiling,’ since they have filed a request for an extension in the submission of their SOCE on June 8.
On June 9, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that the poll body had to discuss Roxas’ request for an extension on Thursday, although no decision has been released as of writing.
Macalintal also said that the Comelec could require LP and Roxas to pay a fine of P10,000 to P30,000, as provided by paragraph 4 of Section 14 of RA 7166.
He added that it is “too premature” to conclude that Robredo and the rest of the winning candidates under LP could not assume office since the political party would have submitted their SOCE before the candidates’ assumption on June 30, 2016.
The Comelec previously said that SOCE submitted after the June 8 deadline will not be accepted, but Macalintal questioned the legality of this resolution, arguing that the poll body “cannot prescribe what the law does not provide.”
He said, “There is no law prohibiting late submission of SOCE precisely because the law provides for penalties in case of late or nonfiling of SOCE.”
Macalintal also noted how many winning candidates from previous elections were late in filing their SOCE, yet were allowed to assume their elected offices.
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