by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – At least five of the 12 winners in the 2019 Senatorial race have filed their Statement of Campaign Expenditures (SOCE) before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, June 13.
Senators Cynthia Villar and Nancy Binay led the filing of the SOCE based on Comelec records.
Villar, who clinched the number one spot with more than 25 million votes, filed her campaign expense report on June 11 or two days before the deadline set by Comelec.
Binay, who finished 12th in the race also filed her SOCE last June 11.
Poe, who nestled at the second spot, submitted her report in the afternoon of June 13, as well as Senators-elect Bong Go and Pia Cayetano, who finished third and fourth in the Senate race, respectively.
Comelec said that most of the winning and losing candidates in the May midterm polls were able to beat the SOCE filing deadline.
Section 14 of Republic Act 1766 requires every candidate and political party to file with the Commission the full, true and itemized Soce within 30 days after the election day.
Also required to file such document are those whose campaigns were self-funded, those who did not incur any expenditure, and those who did not pursue their campaign activities even after filing their candidacies or those who withdrew their candidacies.
The poll body said that based on Comelec resolution 10505, the office of an elected candidate who failed to submit the required documents shall be considered vacant pursuant to Section 11 of the Omnibus Election Code until he/she has complied within six months from the proclamation.
“They cannot assume office until they submitted their Statement of Contribution and Expenditures,” said Atty. Efraim Bag-id, acting director of Comelec campaign finance office.
The poll body emphasized the importance of the filing of SOCE as this will help them determine whether candidates and political parties followed the set campaign spending limits.
The Comelec resolution also states that winning candidates and party-lists with late SOCE filing but still within the period of six months shall be charged with lower administrative fines, depending on the position sought by the candidate.
Losing candidates, meanwhile, who failed to submit their SOCE will be meted out an administrative fine of P10,000.
“Iyong mga kandidato na natalo at hindi nakapagsumite ng kanilang Soce, depende po ito kung first timer po sila o second timer. Kapag first timer, administrative po iyan. Kapag 2 or more na beses na hindi sila nakapag- file ng kanilang SOCE e maliban sa administrative fine, they are perpetually disqualified to hold public office whether elective or appointed position,” Bag-id said.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, 20 candidates for the Senate., 50 party-list groups and three political parties have already filed their Soce.
Comelec said other candidates and political parties may submit their Soce before the campaign finance office until 8 p.m. of June 13. (with details from Aiko Miguel)
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given due course to the bid of former National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Ronald Cardema to substitute as the first nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list group in the 18th Congress.
The Duterte Youth was one of the party-list groups proclaimed as winners in the 2019 midterm elections by the National Board of Canvassers on May 22.
In a resolution released on Tuesday (June 4), Comelec said it has given due course to the nomination of five new nominees as substitutes to the original nominees who backed out of their nominations.
These include Cardema, Gian Carlo Galang, Catherine Santos, Kerwin Pagaran and Sharah Shane Makabali.
In a separate Twitter post, Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon clarified that only Cardema’s plea for substitution was given due course.
“His substitution is not yet granted because there is a pending petition or opposition on the ground that he is over 30 years old and cannot be a rep of a youth sector party-list,” she said.
Guanzon earlier said questioned Cardema’s bid, saying he failed to file the nomination bid on time and did not meet age requirements for a nominee of the youth sector under the Party-list System Act.
It can be recalled that Cardema’s last-minute filing of his substitution plea as Duterte Youth first nominee drew widespread criticism due to various issues raised against him.
These include his being older than the age limit for representatives of the youth sector, for filing his bid on a Sunday and for allegedly using the NYC email addresses to send out news releases about the Duterte Youth party.
Chairman Sheriff Abas, Al Parreño, Marlon Casquejo, Socorro Inting, and Antonio Kho, Jr. voted in favor of the resolution; Guanzon dissented while commissioner Luie Tito Guia abstained.
The poll body also said in its resolution that it granted the withdrawals of the party-list’s original nominees: Ducielle Suarez, who is Cardema’s wife; Benilda de Guzman, Arnaldo Villafranca, Joseph de Guzman and Elizabeth Anne Cardema.
The same Comelec resolution showed the reasons for their withdrawal of candidacy: Cardema’s wife backed out because she “could no longer fulfill the expectation set forth by the party; Joseph de Guzman said he wanted to support the group’s stance “away from public opinion”; Benilda de Guzman wanted to pursue her passion for teaching; while Villafranca and Elizabeth Cardema wanted to enjoy privacy and fulfill their obligations with their respective families.
Comelec also directed the Duterte Youth party to publish its revised list of nominees in two newspapers of general nationwide circulation at its own expense and submit proof of publication.
Malacañang, meanwhile, distanced itself from the issue.
“We do not intrude nor interfere into the proceedings of any branch of the government or any constitutional body,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a Palace press briefing.
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Monday, June 3rd, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar on Monday refused to sign a resolution expressing support for the continued leadership of Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Villar said signing in the senators’ manifesto could put in jeopardy her fellow members in the Nacionalista Party, who are reportedly seeking committee chairmanships in the 18th Congress.
During Monday’s session, Senator Manny Pacquiao asked his fellow senators to sign the resolution but Villar confronted him and PDP-Laban president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel for dragging her into their rift over the Senate top post.
“Bakit ako pipirma diyan? Kung ipahamak n’yo ang aking kapartido? Ako nakapirma dyan. Hihintayin ko na maayos si Pia at si Imee. Di ba tama yun?” Villar told Pacquiao and Pimentel.
“Bakit ako pipirma dyan nang di naaayos ang kapartido ko?” she added.
Villar was apparently referring to Senators-elect Pia Cayetano and Imee Marcos who also belonged to the Nacionalista Party.
Villar later clarified that she refused to sign the resolution because she wanted things to be settled first.
Once all issues had been discussed with her party-mates, Villar said she would also sign the resolution.
“Kaya nga sinasabi ko sa kanila ayusin nila yung partido nila, there must be something wrong there, tapos ako madadamay. In fairness to those people, ayusin nila because there are incoming senators,” she told reporters in a chance interview.
The manifesto was drafted by Senator Panfilo Lacson expressing support for Sotto amid reports that moves were afoot to replace the latter as Senate President in the next Congress.
Villar was reportedly being eyed as a possible replacement of Sotto but she earlier said she is not interested in becoming Senate President herself.
Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon also questioned Pacquiao’s “awkward” move.
“We haven’t heard any motion to declare the position on Senate President vacant and therefore we find this manifestation awkward,” Drilon said.
At least 14 senators have signed the resolution: Senators Gringo Honasan, Lacson, Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Escudero, Pacquiao, Pimentel, Nancy Binay, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon and Ralph Recto.
However, three of them will be leaving the upper chamber when the 17th Congress adjourns. These are Legarda, who was elected as Antique Congresswoman; Escudero, who will seat as Sorsogon Governor in June, and Honasan, who is finishing his last-term.
Sotto will need majority of the 24 senators to retain the top Senate post. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)
by Robie de Guzman | Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2019
MANILA, Philippines – Newly-elected Quezon City mayor Joy Belmonte, vice mayor Gian Sotto and two others are facing vote-buying complaints filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday.
In their complaint affidavit, PDP-Laban campaign manager Mike Defensor and secretary general Edwin Rodriguez accused the respondents, which include losing congressional bet Elizabeth Delarmente and TV host Willie Revillame, of violating the Omnibus Election Code for allegedly engaging in vote-buying activities.
The complaint stemmed from Revillame’s alleged distribution of money to the crowd when he showed up as a guest in Belmonte’s campaign rally along Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City last May 11.
The complainants added that the entire program and the alleged vote-buying act was caught on video since it was broadcast live via Belmonte’s Facebook account.
“Iyong video na prinesent namin as evidence hindi po galing sa amin po iyan, iyan po ay nakuha po namin sa account ni Joy Belmonte,” Rodriguez said.
The video shows Belmonte and Sotto up in the stage with Revillame, and although they were not the ones giving out cash to the crowd, the complainants argued they still committed an election offense.
“Ito ba ay dapat tularan? Ito ba ay ina-allow natin?” Rodriguez said, adding that this should be a landmark case against vote-buying.
“Magbe-benefit dito iyong Pilipinas, iyong taong bayan at para maiwasan kung talagang ito ay bawal then dapat, it should be a landmark case. This will be a test case hanggang saan na are we really that politically mature” he added.
When sought for comment, the camp of Belmonte said Revillame acted on his own accord when he distributed money to the crowd adding that the TV host was only called for an entertainment spot after the event had concluded.
“Several circumstances during the campaign rally they mentioned make it clear that Mr. Willie Revillame had acted out of his own intent and as part of a performance. First, the campaign rally had concluded already and was followed by an entertainment spot for Mr. Revillame. Second, he explicitly stated during the performance that he gave materials and cash out of his own funds,” Pia Morato, Belmonte’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The Comelec said a preliminary investigation has been scheduled for the complaint next week.
“First of all, the giving must be proven, that the giving was done, that the giving was for the purpose of soliciting votes and then it must be proven that the candidate himself approved of that, or knew that it was gonna be done in his behalf,” Comelec spokesperson Director James Jimenez explained.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, vote-buying is considered an election offense that carries a penalty of one to six years of imprisonment, removal of right to vote and disqualification to hold public office.
If found guilty of committing the said election offense, Jimenez said, they will be disqualified and the order of succession will kick in.
“If a candidate has already become a sitting official due to proclamation and a vote-buying case has been filed against him then the order of succession kicks in,” he said.
“It has to do with acts committed during the campaign which caused this disqualification,” he added. (with details from Aiko Miguel)
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