Liberal Party Vice Presidential, winning candidate, Leni Robredo should not be permitted to sit as vice president even though she won the seat this past May 9th. Technically speaking. The Commission on Election (Comelec) should have found her guilty of illegally soliciting and accepting campaign funds from foreign donors, as it was a direct violation of written law:
Here’s the provision of RA 6713.
d) Solicitation or acceptance of gifts – Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.
Ms Robredo, in fact, should have already been in jail and denied any campaigning, such as she has done these past few months regarding her Vice Presidential bid. But Robredo has been free. And thanks to the Comelec having never acted on a twin, three-year old complaints which charges the Camarines Sur representative of having received donations from 10 foreign contributors during the 2013 congressional race. Should we have seen the hand of President BS Aquino. The chair of the Liberal Party, in this apparently deliberate act by Comelec, not to rule on the complaints against Robredo? We can only speculate, given the fact that Robredo was the ruling party’s bet for the Vice Presidency.
Without any takers, it took the Liberal Party too long to find a running mate for their standard bearer, Mar Roxas. And at the end of the day, the ruling party still chose Ms Robredo even as she was facing charges for violation of the Omnibus Election Code. To date, the Comelec has been mum on the Robredo case. Evan at the time she was announced as Aquino’s pick for vice president. Did Aquino tell Comelec to throw the Robredo case into the dust bin? Receiving campaign donations from foreigners is a direct violation of the Omnibus Election Code. And the Comelec has yet to decide on the two separate cases filed against Ms Robredo in 2013 by former Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte and his wife Nelly.
Mrs Villafuerte ran against, but lost to Robredo in the 2013 Camarines Sur Congressional derby. These cases have sat in limbo since their filing shortly after the May 9, 2013 election. Had the Comelec decided to give merit to the complaints regarding a violation within the Omnibus Election Code, Ms Robredo would have been disqualified in her run for the Vice Presidency in the recent elections. Nelly Villafuerte lamented that had the Comelec filed the case in court and found Robredo guilty, she would have been disqualified from holding public office and could have also served jail time.
But the woes of Ms Robredo may not be over. The Villafuertes’ have stated they will continue to pursue the case and prod Comelec to reach a verdict that will remove Ms Robredo from her recently acquired Vice Presidential seat. The complaints against Ms Robredo have shown that she solicited and received campaign donations from at least seven American nationals. Among them Loida Nicolas Lewis, and three other American entities, as reported to The Standard. According to Nelly Villafuerte who filed the first complaint. Posts on Ms Robredo’s social media account had detailed her contributors as being natural-born Americans or naturalized Americans, were among the evidence collected and backed the complaints. Also among Ms Robredo’s foreign donors were the following:
- Edward Seidel, a natural-born American married to a Filipina, Lorna, who had also acquired her US citizenship.
- Lawyer Rodel Rodis, the first Filipino-American to win an elective post in the United States.
- Robert Federigan
- Robert Heiberger
- Rainier Asprer
- Richard Sublett
Nelly Villafuerte stated that Ms Robredo had also named at least three foreign entities which had contributed to her campaign:
- The Unlimited Agency, Inc., which was registered as a corporation on March 17, 1994 with registration no. 57729554 in the state of Illinois.
- The Bicol USA of the Midwest, which was registered as a corporation in the State of Illinois, on Feb. 11, 2011, with registration no. 67779959.
- Fundrazr, a website used to raise funds from anonymous donors abroad.
Fundrazr, is reportedly the flagship product of a company called Connection Point Systems, a privately owned and funded Canadian company, Villafuerte said.
As proof, Nelly Villafuerte had also presented the receipts of donations from the foreign individuals and entities that were acknowledged by Ms Robredo in her Facebook account. The second complaint was filed by Luis Villafuerte, who accused Ms Robredo of not reporting to the Comelec the names of those who actually contributed to her campaign fund. Ms Robredo executed a counter-affidavit disowning Luis as her agent to solicit campaign funds, but admitted Luis turned over to her, his personal contributions and that no other contributions came from any other foreign donors. Ms Robredo also denied knowledge of the existence of her personal website, and that it had been created under her name. The Villafuertes said Luis was born a Filipino but was an American citizen when she made her donation to Ms Robredo, who thus violated the Omnibus Election Code.