Did they read rules at all? 30 Senate
bets, pol parties file late, bad reports

NEARLY A year would seem plenty time for senatorial candidates and their political parties to study the campaign-finance rules and regulations for the May 2013 elections so that they could comply correctly. After all, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued Resolution No. 9476 that set out all these rules as early as June 22, 2012.

Yet as far as the submission of the Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) goes, the election body’s Campaign Finance Unit (CFU) has found various deficiencies on the reports filed by almost all 33 senatorial candidates and nearly all their political parties. In fact, the CFU has recommended fines on almost all these candidates and most of the 12 political parties that nominated them because of this.

Worse, as of this writing, a senatorial candidate and four political parties — including one with a winning nominee — have yet to file the SOCE nearly a week after the official June 13, 2013 deadline.

Republic Act No. 7166 or the Synchronized Elections Law provides that each candidate and political party that participated in the polls must file with the Commission the full, true, and itemized SOCE within 30 days after election day. The law also says that they should not be allowed to assume office until they submit this document.

Obviously, the SOCE is more than a just a piece of paper. Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim says it is a test of honesty and integrity — whether or not candidates are able to be truthful, and if they are able to comply with the law.

“When you’re running for public office, it’s a question of accountability,” says Lim, who heads Comelec’s Campaign Finance Steering Committee. “Where do you get the money for your campaign? How do you spend it? When you assume your position, people will look at the decisions you’ll make while you’re in office.”

Complied fully: 3

Yet according to the CFU report that was submitted to the Comelec En Banc on June 18, only Samson S. Alacantara of the Social Justice Society, Ramon Magsaysay Jr. of the Liberal Party, and Ricardo Penson (Independent) have fully complied with the SOCE requirements.

The SOCEs of two winning candidates (Aquilino Martin ‘Koko’ L. Pimentel and Cynthia A. Villar), four losing candidates (Juan ‘Jack’ C. Ponce Enrile Jr., Baldomero C. Falcone, Edward S. Hagedorn, Eduardo ‘Brother Eddie’ C. Villanueva) and one political party (Liberal Party), meanwhile, were deemed as “not filed” because their statements were not personally signed and/or did not follow the prescribed form as required by the rules.

And while Comelec found no issue on the SOCEs submitted by senator-elect Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Teodoro ‘Teddy’ A. Casino, the statements of their respective parties, Nacionalista Party and Makabayan, have yet to pass Comelec standards.

Forms and contents

Of the 12 parties, only Akbayan, Partido Demokratiko-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and Social Justice Society (SJS) have submitted complete and on-time documents. PDP-Laban and SJS, however, need not submit copies of donor and expense receipts because the two parties did not receive any donation or incur any expense. Akbayan, for its part, declared its donation to its senatorial candidate Ana Theresa ‘Risa’ Hontiveros-Baraquel as its only expense.

Section 3, Rule 8 of Resolution No. 9476 prescribes the form and contents that must be included in the SOCE, which is composed of five documents: the one-page Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (Annex F of Resolution No. 9476), Schedule of Contributions Received (Annex G), Schedule of Expenditures (Annex H), Summary Report of Expenditures (Annex H-1), and Schedule of Unpaid Obligations (Annex I).

Section 109 of the Omnibus Election Code also provides that these annexes must be supported and accompanied by certified true copies of official receipts, invoices, and other similar documents.

An incomplete statement, or one that does not contain all the required information and attachments, or does not conform to the prescribed form, according to the rules, shall be considered as “not filed” and “shall subject the candidates or party treasurers to the penalties prescribed by law.”

The submission deadline was officially set at 5:00 pm of June 13, 2013 (last Wednesday) but due to inclement weather, the deadline was extended to 10:00 pm of the same day for senatorial candidates and party-list organizations, and 7:00 pm also of the same day for local candidates in the National Capital Region and regional and local political parties based in Metro Manila.

Bad bookkeeping

Commissioner Lim says Comelec had even rushed the issuance of Resolution No. 9476 to give candidates and parties time to study the rules carefully. “If candidates and parties followed election laws properly, they are supposed to maintain books of account during the campaign period so it will not really be difficult for them to make the SOCE,” he says.

“You don’t actually need 30 days,” he adds, “because if your bookkeeping is in order, you won’t have any problems about submitting right away, would you?”

Still, for all the failings of candidates and the parties in complying with the SOCE requirements, Lim considers this election year’s campaign-finance document submission — at least for senatorial bets — an improvement compared to previous polls.

Of the 33 senatorial bets, only the SOCE of Marwil Llasos of Ang Kapatiran Party has yet to reach Comelec. Lim says he heard in the news the Llasos sent his SOCE via registered mail. Assuming Llasos filed his statement, Lim says that all 33 candidates would have then made submissions. In the 2010 elections, he says, some national candidates filed one year after the deadline while some did not file the SOCE at all.

Lim also says that for him, the results so far are encouraging.

Indeed, of the 12 winning candidates, only senator-elect Francis Joseph ‘Chiz’ G. Escudero submitted his SOCE late or one day beyond the deadline.

In the meantime, senator-elect Joseph Victor ‘JV’ G. Ejercito says he submitted his SOCE via registered mail on June 13 due to heavy traffic. Comelec, however, received his report only on June 14 and by personal service. The Comelec CFU will wait for the SOCE copy that was supposedly sent by mail to verify Ejercito’s claim.

The CFU also found the SOCEs filed by Binay, Honasan, and Poe-Llamanzares deficient because they similarly failed to attach copies of their expenditure receipts.

Of the 21 losing candidates, Hontiveros of Akbayan and Rizalito Y. David of Ang Kapatiran Party submitted two days late (June 15), while Marwil N. Llasos also of Ang Kapatiran has yet to submit his SOCE as of press time.

Four political parties — Ang Kapatiran Party, Democratic Party of the Philippines, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, and Makabayan — have not submitted their SOCEs as well.

Lim says SOCEs submitted after the June 13 deadline may still be considered as filed. But he says that late filers will be assessed with P1,000-per-day fine, provided that the submission is not later than June 29, or the day before newly elected officials will assume their post.

Deficiencies in the documents filed by the senatorial candidates and the political parties ranged from wrong signatures to missing receipts.

More deficiencies

Team PNoy candidates Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ A. Aquino IV, Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Pimentel, and Villar, for instance, did not personally sign their SOCEs. Instead, a certain Lorraine Castañeda, Pauline Rabonza and Teodoro Llamanzares, Nestor Famatigan Jr., and Jane C. Ynte signed the documents on behalf of Aquino, Poe-Llamanzares, Pimentel, and Villar, respectively.

The CFU says this was inconsistent with Section 14 of R.A. No 7166 that requires all statements as well as schedules of contributions, expenditures, and unpaid obligations to be personally signed and certified by the candidate or party treasurer. The CFU says, though, that as of June 17, Aquino and Poe-Llamanzares had resubmitted their SOCEs with their own signatures.

The SOCEs of some senators-elect, however, were found in violation of Section 3, Rule 8 of Resolution No. 9476 that requires entries in the Schedules of Contributions, Expenditures, and Unpaid Obligations (Annexes G, H, and I) to be supported by copies of receipts, invoices, or other relevant documents.

The same section also requires the taxpayer identification number or TIN of the contributor to be provided.

No receipts

Senators-elect Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ M. Angara, Ejercito, Escudero, Gregorio ‘Gringo’ B. Honasan II, Lorna Regina ‘Loren’ B. Legarda, Poe-Llamanzares, Pimentel, Antonio F. Trillanes IV, and Villar did not include copies of receipts that they issued to their donors in their respective SOCEs.

Angara, Trillanes, and Villar also failed to include their donors’ TIN.

Nine losing candidates failed to include donor receipts in their SOCEs as well: Greco B. Belgica, Margarita ‘Tingting’ R. Cojuangco, Richard ‘Dick’ J. Gordon, Hagedorn, Ernesto ‘Ernie’ M. Maceda, Maria Milagros ‘Mitos’ H. Magsaysay, Ramon E. Montaño, Villanueva, and Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ F. Zubiri.

As for the 12 political parties, Bangon Pilipinas Party (nominated Villanueva), the Liberal Party (nominated Aquino, Ma. Ana Consuelo ‘Jamby’ Madrigal, and Jun Magsaysay), the Nacionalista Party (nominated Villar, Cayetano, and Trillanes), the Nationalist People’s Coalition (nominated Legarda and Enrile), and the United Nationalist Alliance (nominated Ma. Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Ejercito, and Honasan) did not submit copies of receipts that were issued to their contributors.

The CFU also found the SOCEs filed by Binay, Honasan, Legarda, and Poe-Llamanzares deficient because they failed to attach copies of their expenditure receipts.

This was also the case with the SOCEs filed by the United Nationalist Alliance and losing candidates Enrile, Gordon, Hagedorn, Maceda, Madrigal, Mitos Magsaysay, Montaño, Christian M. Señeres, and Villanueva.

As with late filers, the Comelec CFU has recommended a P1,000-fine per day for candidates and parties with deficient SOCEs until they have fully complied with the requirements. They have until June 29, 2013 to do so, after which the CFU will no longer accept and consider SOCEs as “filed”.

Candidates, parties, and party-list groups that submitted “complete and compliant campaign finance disclosure reports and statements” will be issued a Certificate of Compliance. Without this certificate, a candidate will not be allowed able to take oath of office. Political parties must also secure this certificate, or else its nominated candidates will also not be allowed to assume office. — PCIJ, June 2013