IF RULES on campaign finance will be followed, only five winning senatorial candidates will be allowed to assume office on June 30, 2013. That is, until the rest of the candidates and their nominating parties submit a complete Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) by June 29, 2013.

The question is: Should the seven other new senators who have yet, together with the political parties that nominated them, to fully comply with their obligation in law to file true and complete SOCEs be allowed to assume office?

As of June 25, seven winning candidates for senator had actually “fully complied” with the SOCE requirements: Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Francis Joseph ‘Chiz’ G. Escudero, Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Cynthia A. Villar, Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ A. Aquino IV, Gregorio ‘Gringo’ B. Honasan II, and Loren Regina ‘Loren’ B. Legarda.

The Campaign Finance Unit (CFU) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), however, recommends that Aquino and Legarda not be allowed to assume office until their respective nominating parties, the Liberal Party (LP) led by President Aquino and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), submit supporting information and documents.

Too, it was only today, June 27, that the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) led by Vice President Jejomar Binay finally submitted receipts and other documents to correct its SOCE deficiencies.

Republic Act No. 7166 (Synchronized Elections Law) requires every candidate and political party to submit a “full, true and itemized” SOCE within 30 days after Election Day. Failure to do so prohibits a winning candidate from entering office until he/she has filed such statement.

The legal prohibition from assuming office also applies to a winning candidate if the political party that nominated him/her fails to file its SOCE.

The Comelec Law Department and CFU will issue a Certificate of Compliance to candidates, parties, and party-list groups that submitted “complete and compliant campaign finance disclosure reports and statements.” This certificate is required before a candidate is allowed to take oath of office.

Candidates and parties were required to submit the SOCE until June 13, 2013. Comelec, however, gave candidates and parties a grace period lasting until June 29 to fully comply with SOCE requirements.

The grace period was given to encourage candidates and parties to file and complete their submissions. But a running fine of P1,000 per day was to be applied for those found in non-compliance.

Read out full report in www.pcij.org

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