MANILA–The Supreme Court upheld the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decision to perpetually disqualify a local candidate in Basilan from holding public office for failing to file twice his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) within 30 days from the day of the election.
In a nine-page unanimous decision dated March 28, 2017, written by Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, the SC affirmed the the perpetual disqualification of Joel T. Maturan, for failure to file his SOCE for the 2010 gubernatorial and 2013 mayoralty elections in Basilan.
The SC said perpetual disqualification to hold public office was the additional penalty imposed on candidates who repeatedly failed to file their SOCE under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7166, the law on synchronized national and local elections.
Maturan filed his certificate of candidacy for governor of Basilan on Oct. 16, 2015.
Allan Patinio, a registered voter, petitioned the Comelec to disqualify Maturan for failure to file his SOCEs for 2010 and 2013 elections.
But Maturan claimed he could not be disqualified because he had paid a fine for non-filing of SOCE for 2010, and he withdrew his candidacy for the 2013 election. Later, he claimed the penalty of perpetual disqualification was harsh and cruel.
After the Comelec handed down its decision perpetually disqualifying him, Maturan elevated the issue before the SC.
The SC dismissed Maturan’s petition and junked his allegation of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec in imposing upon him the penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
“In imposing the penalty, the Comelec clearly acted within the bounds of its jurisdiction in view of the clear language of Section 14 of RA No. 7166,” it said.