Comelec's campaign finance office chief to resign

MANILA, Philippines – Commissioner Christian Robert Lim of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to step down as the head of the poll body's Campaign Finance Office (CFO). 

Lim confirmed the news to Rappler in a text message on Friday, June 17. He added that he plans to tender his resignation as CFO head on Monday, June 20.

Asked about his reason, he said, "Because of the policy shift on SOCE submissions." He will remain as commissioner of the poll body, Lim noted.

The Comelec voted 4-3 on Thursday to grant the request of the Liberal Party (LP) to extend the filing of Statements of Contributions and Expenses (SOCEs). The poll body extended the deadline to June 30. 

Lim voted against granting the LP's 14-day extension request, along with Chairman Andres Bautista and Commissioner Luie Tito Guia. Bautista, however, also voted to allow late-filing of SOCEs with fines imposed.

Lim's office likewise recommended denying the request. In a memorandum sent to the Comelec en banc before the voting, Lim argued that June 8 is "a hard deadline" in accordance with Republic Act 7166.

He also said that granting LP's request "would not only be unfair to other candidates and parties who complied with the prescribed period, but also would be a reversal of the Commission's own Resolution on the matter." 

The LP missed the "final, non-extendible" June 8 deadline set in Comelec Resolution 9991, then submitted its SOCE 6 days late. The party reasoned that it had a "voluminous number of receipts" to scan and attach to its SOCE "in the interest of transparency."

Voting in favor of the extension were Commissioners Rowena Guanzon, Arthur Lim, Sheriff Abas, and Al Parreño.

In Thursday's press briefing, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that the 4 commissioners cited the "absurdity" of the consequences if the filing period is not adjusted.

Section 14 of RA 7166 – the law providing for synchronized national and local elections – states that if a political party fails to submit its SOCE, its winning candidates would be unable to assume office.

LP's winning candidates would not have been allowed to assume office if the en banc had voted against the extension. This includes Vice President-elect Leni Robredo and 5 winning senators.

"The people voted for them; respect the will of the people. That is the primordial principle in elections," said Commissioner Guanzon as part of a series of tweets on Friday.

RA 7166 and Comelec Resolution 9991 both state that all candidates, party lists, and political parties are required to submit their SOCEs within 30 days after election day, in this case, May 9.

But unlike in past elections where the filing period was extended, the poll body ruled in Comelec Resolution 9991 that submissions beyond the June 8 deadline "shall not be accepted." – Rappler.com

Michael Bueza

Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.

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