By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
The Commission on Elections is urging all candidates of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) to submit their Statements of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) before the deadline on November 29.
“Immediately after the election day, they need to submit [their SOCE] and they have until November 29 to comply,” Atty. Dennis Ausan, Comelec-6 director, told the Daily Guardian.
More importantly, Ausan emphasized that elected officials cannot assume office if they fail to file their respective SOCE.
Section 14 of the Republic Act, or the Synchronized National and Local Elections and Electoral Reforms Act, states that no elected officials may take office without filing their respective SOCE.
“In short dasigon nila, indi na sila maghulat sang November 29,” Comelec-6 director stressed.
The SOCE is a “full, true, and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election” to be submitted to the Comelec within 30 days after the election day.
The SOCE forms, which can be downloaded from the poll body’s website or obtained from the local Comelec office, include the following five forms:
Form 1 shows the summary of the contributions and expenses of the candidate, as well as a sworn certification that the details in this document are the “full, true, accurate and complete contributions received and expenditures incurred”;
Form 2 shows the list of donors;
Form 3 contains details of expenses incurred during the campaign;
Form 4 is the summary of lawful expenditures; and
Form 5 shows the list, if any, of unpaid obligations.
According to Comelec data, there are a total of 148,005 candidates in Western Visayas. The distribution across the provinces is as follows: Aklan with 11,613, Antique with 20,789, Capiz with 16,957, Guimaras with 3,601, Iloilo (including the city) with 65,405, and Negros Occidental (including Bacolod City) with 29,640 candidates.
But what will happen to those who cannot file their SOCE?
According to the same law, failure to file the SOCE constitutes an administrative offense, which requires violators to pay an administrative fine ranging from P1,000 to P30,000, at the discretion of the Comelec.
For those who provided false records or exceeded the required expenses, the candidate may face an administrative case such as perjury, perpetual disqualification, or imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recently deferred its order requiring winning candidates to submit their SOCE to them as a requirement before they can assume their positions.
In Memorandum Circular No. 2023-165 signed by DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. on October 27, the agency noted that “the additional requirement of the submission to DILG of the Comelec Certification of SOCE filing may be deemed as duplicative.”