Duterte's party to SC: Junk Comelec rule on campaign expense reports
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The party of President Rodrigo Duterte asked the Supreme Court to nullify a ruling by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the deadline of filing 2016 campaign expense reports.
In a 25-page petition for certiorari on Wednesday, July 6, PDP-Laban through its secretary-general Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez argued that the extension of the filing period violated Republic Act 7166 or the Synchronized Local and National Elections and Electoral Reforms Act.
Section 14 of RA 7166 states that all winning and losing candidates as well as political parties must file their SOCEs within 30 days after the day of election.
The poll body, via Comelec Resolution 10147, extended the filing of Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) up to June 30, from the original "non-extendible" June 8 deadline.
On Tuesday, July 12, the Supreme Court en banc ordered the Comelec to submit in 10 days its comment on the PDP-Laban petition.
The Liberal Party (LP) requested for the extension after it missed the first deadline. It then filed its SOCE 6 days later. LP's presidential candidate, former Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, also filed his SOCE late, only on June 22.
The LP explained that it had to scan and attach a "voluminous number of receipts" in the interest of transparency.
LP's late filing threatened to jeopardize the assumption into office of its winning candidates, including Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo.
With the Comelec's decision to extend the filing period, Alvarez argued that it is tantamount to amending the law, which only can be done by Congress.
Alvarez also echoed the observation of Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim, who recommended and voted against the extension. Lim resigned as head of the Comelec Campaign Finance Office shortly after the ruling. (READ: Resigned Comelec CFO head Lim: SOCE filing extension illegal)
"It is very evident that the challenged Resolution No. 10147, which extended the deadline for the filing of the SOCE to June 30, 2016, is clearly an accommodation in favor of the LP," the petition said.
"That said, public respondent Comelec en banc acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, when it issued the challenged Resolution No. 10147."
The SC earlier dismissed the first petition against the SOCE filing extension, when petitioners led by lawyer Manuelito Luna failed to attach a duplicate or certified true copy of the assailed Comelec resolution. – Rappler.com