Misuari subject to perpetual disqualification for not filing election fund statement

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 October) – Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is among 361 Mindanawons who are subject to perpetual disqualification from holding public office for failure to file the required Statement of Contribution and Expenditures (SOCE) in the last two or three elections.

Misuari failed to file his SOCE in the past three elections where he ran for Sulu Governor in 2007 and 2010 and for ARMM Governor in 2013, according to a list released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on October 23.

Misuari served as governor of the ARMM from September 30, 1996 to November 24, 2001 when he was arrested off Sabah for illegal entry, two days before the ARMM election where Parouk Hussin, also of the MNLF, was elected Governor. Misuari is presently in hiding after a warrant for his arrest was issued in connection with the Zamboanga City stand-off in September 2013.

The Comelec released the “list of candidates subject to perpetual disqualification due to 2nd and 3rd failure to file SOCE,” involving 752 candidates nationwide who ran for various posts in past elections.

MindaNews counted 361 Mindanawons on the Comelec list released on October 23: 189 in the ARMM, seven in Caraga, 21 in Region 9 (Zamboanga region) including five from Isabela City which was included in the ARMM list; 67 in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), 18 in Region 11 (Davao region) and 59 in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao or popularly referred to as Soccsksargen after the names of the member provinces and cities). See list at http://www.comelec.gov.ph/?r=CampaignFinance/CandidatewhoFiletheirSOCETwoorMoreElections

Commissioner Lui Tito Guia told MindaNews in a text message that “there will be notice and hearings” before the perpetual disqualification.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said “an action will be filed to perpetually disqualify them.” He said a petition will be filed pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 991; Rule 25 of Comelec rules of procedure. Hearings will be conducted, Jimenez told MindaNews in a text message Tuesday.

According to the Comelec website, the legal basis for requiring candidates and parties to submit “full, true and itemized” SOCEs in relation to their electoral campaigns is found in Section 107 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) and punishable as an election offense under Section 262 of the OEC.

“While this has been repealed by Section 39 of RA 7166 and consequently decriminalized and is no longer an election offense, Section 14 of RA 7166 still requires the filing of SOCEs,” the Comelec said.

Section 14 states that every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within 30 days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election.

No person elected to any public office can assume his/her post until he/she submits the SOCE. The same prohibition applies if the political party which nominated the winning candidate fails to file the SOCE within the prescribed period..

Except candidates for elective barangay office, failure to file the statements or reports in connection with electoral contributions and expenditures shall constitute an administrative offense for which the offenders shall be liable to pay fines ranging from PhP1,000.00) to PhP30,000.00), at the discretion of the Commission.

The fine shall be paid within 30 days from receipt of notice of failure “otherwise, it shall be enforceable by a writ of execution issued by the Commission against the properties of the offender,” the Comelec said.

City and municipal election registrars are mandated to advise in writing, by personal delivery or registered mail, within five days from the date of election all candidates residing in his/her jurisdiction to comply with their obligation to file their SOCE.

For the second or subsequent failure to file SOCEs, the administrative fine shall be from PhP 2,000.00 to PhP 60,000.00 at the discretion of the Comelec. Aside from the fine, “the offender shall be subject to perpetual disqualification to hold public office.”

The Comelec also said that “regardless of the results of the elections, or even if the candidates or parties concerned did not receive any contribution or make any expenditure, they should still submit their SOCEs reflecting such fact.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)