Over a year after the May 2010 elections, the political parties of our most senior elective officials, including no less than Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito and Sergio Osmena III, and Leyte Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, remain remiss in their compliance with election and campaign finance laws.

To this day, their respective political parties have not submitted to the Commission on Elections their Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SECE), as required in law. For this failure, the law also stipulates that they should not have been allowed to assume their posts at all.
In contrast, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III demonstrated exemplary behavior by filing his election expense reports within deadline. Even better, he admitted that he raised about P37 million in excess campaign donations.

In his SECE, the President reported receiving a total of P440 million in campaign donations, or P36.9 million in excess of the P403 million in expenses that he said he incurred in his run for Malacanang.

But the initial honesty of the President was not followed up by prompt and full disclosure of what he did with his P37-million excess campaign donations, until we popped the question. It took the President over a year, and on prodding of the PCIJ yet, to clarify what he did with the money.

In contrast to the President’s relative honesty about his excess campaign donations, a pattern of non-compliance with reporting requirements under election laws marks the story of Binay, Enrile,Estrada, Osmena, and Romualdez-Marcos.

The political parties under whose banners they ran and won public posts have all ignored the Comelec’s directives for them to file their respective election spending reports. Indeed, if only campaign finance laws were enforced to the letter, these officials should not be occupying their seats right now.

Republic Act No. 7166 or the Synchronized Elections Law stipulates that within 30 days after election day, every candidate and political party that participated in the polls must file with the Comelec the full, true, and itemized SECE. Until they do, the law says they should not be allowed to take their elected posts.

Being remiss in this requirement would also mean a fine, which could run from P1,000 to P30,000 for first offenders, to P2,000 to P60,000 for second offenders.

The law has not been enforced even as the Comelec has enrolled many more legislative and local officials who continue to ignore with impunity the filing of SECE and other campaign finance laws.

The Comelec’s list of errant candidates and political parties is fairly long. For the May 2010 elections, the poll body counts at least one candidate for president and another for vice-president, nine senatorial candidates, 36 party-list groups and 70 political parties as having failed to submit their SECEs. This official list has yet to include those who ran for local elective positions – a roster of names that Comelec says runs 457 pages.

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