Only 4 out of 260 national bets file campaign spending reports – Comelec

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31)— Only four of the 260 national candidates who ran in the May 2022 elections have so far filed their campaign spending reports before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Acting Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said the early submissions as of May 30 came from senatorial candidate and former police chief Guillermo Eleazar, as well as the party-lists Abono, Senior Citizens, and Bisaya Gyud.

Abono and Senior Citizens won one seat each in the 19th Congress.

However, copies of their Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) have not yet been made available to the media. Political parties are also required to submit this report to Comelec’s Campaign Finance Office by June 8, or 30 days after voting day.

Through the SOCE, Comelec can monitor campaign overspending against the limit of ₱674 million for presidential and vice presidential candidates, and between ₱200-P300 million for senate and party-list bets.

Local candidates as well as political parties should also file SOCEs, including those who lost or withdrew from the race during the official campaign period.

Comelec would also check if foreigners donated campaign funds and if there were cash or in-kind items received from prohibited industries such as public utilities and banks. Fund sources and expense items must be listed in detail.

Laudiangco said Comelec could verify submitted spending data through advertising reports submitted by media companies. Receipts may be verified with the Bureau of Internal Revenue or its source agency.

“We can always investigate and secure documents from other sources,” Commissioner George Garcia added.

Social media associates and so-called online influencers tapped for or against a certain candidate must be included in the expense reports as individual contractors, as well as advertising agencies or media placers tapped for campaigns.

The spending report is due 30 days after voting day. Garcia earlier said there will be no extensions.

Winning bets unable to file their SOCE cannot assume office, while overspending candidates will be disqualified from holding their elective post.

A candidate who did not file a SOCE will face an administrative offense and will be fined between ₱1,000 and ₱30,000.

Failure to file SOCEs twice would merit perpetual disqualification from holding public office, according to the Omnibus Election Code.

Comelec earlier filed 24 administrative exclusion cases to bar candidates in past elections from joining the May 2022 race for failure to file a SOCE repeatedly.