THE DEPARTMENT of Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned winning candidates for local posts in the just-concluded midterm elections that they will not be able allowed to assume office if they fail to submit their Statement of Contributions and Expenses (SOCE).

In a statement on Sunday, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said, “Filing your SOCE is your first legal obligation to the nation and to the public. It is always good to start with a clean slate and to prove that you are worthy of the votes of your constituents.”

Both winning and losing candidates are obliged to submit their SOCE to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) within 30 days after the date of elections, which means in this case the deadline is June 13.

The DILG and Comelec earlier signed a memorandum of agreement wherein the latter will issue a certification to each winning candidate after filing the SOCE.

This certification will have to be presented to the DILG or its attached agencies before the official assumes the position.

Further, the office of an elected candidate who failed to file a SOCE “shall be considered vacant pursuant to Sec. 11 of the Omnibus Election Code until he has compiled and submitted his SOCE within the prescribed deadline, along with other Comelec requirements within the required period,” according to DILG.

If the candidate fails to meet the deadline, DILG said “a permanent vacancy occurs for which the office shall be filled up in accordance with the Constitution or law.”

“His failure to file the SOCE on time would entail a delay in public service and would cause a leadership vacuum,” said Mr. Malaya.

Administrative penalties will also be imposed on elected candidates who do not submit their SOCEs, which also applies to elected party-list groups and political parties. — Gillian M. Cortez