Belmonte gives 20 congressmen till Dec. 16 to comply with Comelec requirement

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Dec. 12 (PNA) — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday said he is giving the 20 congressmen named by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) who have not submitted their statements of election contributions and expenditures (SOCE) to fix their data until Monday (Dec. 16) or he will be forced to ask them to vacate their post.

In a press conference, Belmonte said he want to give every congressman the needed time in complying the Comelec’s requirements by submitting their SOCE.

“I give them until Monday next week to fix the problem. If they fail, I will be the one to ask them to vacate their post,” he said.

The Speaker, however, was quick to add that he is 100 percent sure that by Monday, the 20 congressmen have already complied with the poll body’s requirements.

Out of the 20 lawmakers who supposedly failed to submit SOCE, Belmonte said only three have not filed while others have not signed their SOCE.

“I have talked to (Camarines Sur) Congressman (Salvio) Fortuno who denied the accusation that he did not submit his SOCE while (Manila) Congresswoman (Maria Teresa) Bonoan attempted to file her SOCE but the timing is not good because it happens that Comelec is having their Christmas party,” he said.

The Speaker named Bulacan Rep. Maria Victoria Sy Alvarado as the third solon who failed to submit SOCE.

Belmonte said he had already talk to the 20 congressmen and told them to immediately fix the problem regarding their SOCE.

Considering most of them simply did not personally sign the SOCE but maybe by their accountants “means to say hindi naman (in) bad faith ‘yon. Talagang mis-apprehension lang,” he pointed out.

Belmonte said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes asked him in a letter to help him to implement sanctions against those who failed to comply with the law by either failing to submit a SOCE; failing to sign the submitted SOCE or submitting a signed SOCE that was not in the proper form.

Comelec released the 422 names of elected officials holding different elective positions who have supposedly failed to submit their SOCE.

The list includes four governors, one vice governor, 12 Sangguniang Panlalawigan (board member), three city mayors, 20 congressmen, nine city vice-mayors, 47 Sangguniang Panglunsod (city councilors), 23 municipal mayors, 26 municipal vice mayors, and 277 Sangguniang Bayan (municipal councilors).

Brillantes announced that all winning senators in the May 2013 elections fully complied with the law on the submission of SOCEs. (PNA)