Published 23 May 2022, The Daily Tribune

Election of our leaders is the most divisive political exercise in the country. Friends, colleagues and even family members become adversaries, all for the sake of their chosen candidates. This holds true during the recently concluded elections. We saw on mainstream and social media the outpouring of support and contributions by our countrymen to various candidates. However, it should be emphasized that not all kinds of contributions and expenditures are allowed by law. There are certain rules and regulations governing contributions and expenditures by the candidates.

Regardless of the outcome of the elections, all candidates are obliged to submit a Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SoCE) after the elections, otherwise they may be perpetually disqualified from holding public office. Here is a discussion of the relevant rules about SoCE.

SoCE is a document that contains an itemized list of all contributions and expenditures by a candidate. For candidates who participated in the 9 May 2022 elections, the SoCE must be submitted to the appropriate Commission on Elections (Comelec) department on or before 8 June 2022. The date of submission is final and non-extendible.

Pursuant to Section 14 of Republic Act 7166, or the Synchronized Election Law, no person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his/her office until he/she has filed the SoCE. Failure to file the SoCE shall constitute an administrative offense for which the offenders shall be liable to pay an administrative fine ranging from P1,000 to P30,000. For the commission of a second or subsequent offense under this section, the administrative fine shall be from P2,000 to P60,000. In addition, the offender shall be subject to perpetual disqualification to hold public office.

Under the law, an allowable “contribution” pertains to a gift, donation, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of money or anything of value, or a contract, promise or agreement to contribute, whether or not legally enforceable, made for the purpose of influencing the results of the elections, and use of facilities voluntarily donated by other persons, the money value of which can be assessed based on the rates prevailing in the area, such as free use of meeting rooms, office space, hotel rooms, transportation, and the like. (Section 94 of the Omnibus Election Code)

Any person may contribute as much as he/she can, as long as the same is not among the list of prohibited contributions, to wit: 1) Public or private financial institutions: Provided, however, That nothing herein shall prevent the making of any loan to a candidate or political party by any such public or private financial institutions legally in the business of lending money, and that the loan is made in accordance with laws and regulations and in the ordinary course of business; 2) Natural and juridical persons operating a public utility or in possession of or exploiting any natural resources of the nation; 3) Natural and juridical persons who hold contracts or sub-contracts to supply the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions or instrumentalities, with goods or services or to perform construction or other works; 4) Natural and juridical persons who have been granted franchises, incentives, exemptions, allocations or similar privileges or concessions by the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations; 5) Natural and juridical persons who, within one year prior to the date of the election, have been granted loans or other accommodations in excess of P100,000 by the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions or instrumentalities including government-owned or controlled corporations; 6) Educational institutions which have received grants of public funds amounting to no less than P100,000; 7) Officials or employees in the Civil Service, or members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; 8) Foreigners and foreign corporations; and 9) Any aid or contribution of whatever form or nature from any foreign national, government or entity for the purposes of influencing the results of the election. (Sections 95 and 96 of the Omnibus Election Code)

(To be continued)

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