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Tell the truth about campaign expenses, Comelec warns candidates

The Commission on Election warned candidates Monday that they should be truthful in reporting campaign expenses if they do not want to face a perjury charge. “Pwede ma-charge ng perjury because the statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) is under oath,” Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr told reporters. He said discovery of the fraud could take time, but the Comelec will still be able to find it. “Violation can take time [to be discovered]. There will be an audit, titignan ang supporting documents, matagal pa 'yun. Pwede naman 'yun maski isang taon, dalawang taon [after the elections],” he said. He said the poll body will be able to do it with the help of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). “Sila magbibigay ng tao, ng volunteers to review all of these documents, probably going through an audit of documents, submitted documents later,” said Brillantes. The poll chief said before the audit, the first task of the citizens' arm is to monitor whether candidates, winners and losers alike, indeed filed their campaign expense report. “Ang rush lang naman diyan is we have to determine who did not file by June 30 so we can prevent them from assuming the office,” he said. He said winning candidates cannot assume their post unless they submit their campaign expense reports. “Kung hindi nagfile, hindi namin paa-assume-in. We have a MOA [memorandum of agreement] with Department of Interior and Local Government na hindi nila paa-assume-in and we will enforce that,” he said. Section 14 of the Republic Act 7166 (An Act providing for synchronized national and local elections and for electoral reforms) states that every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within 30 days after the election day, file in duplicate with the offices of the Comelec the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election. It further stated that "no person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures herein required." And since all candidates should submit their statement of contributions and expenditures, Brillantes admitted that they might have a hard time monitoring the reports. “Pag nagsubmit lahat 'yan, winners and losers alike, tambak 'yan pupunta lahat dito sa Comelec. E paano namin mare-review 'yan. We were supposed to review this up to June 30 because we have a rule that if you win and don’t submit report, you cannot assume post,” he said. He said that there are 33 senatorial candidates, 123 partylist organizations, and thousands of local candidates who will be submitting their reports to the poll body. “Precisely, I’m saying we are having difficulty but we are talking already to our citizens' arm who is going to assist us in regulation of the campaign finance. Tutulungan kami ng Namfrel at PPCRV in monitoring all of these,” said Brillantes. — BM, GMA News