The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has created a unit to prevent candidates from being “creative” in reporting their campaign expenses and donations, a Comelec official said Thursday.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the Comelec Campaign Finance Unit (CFU) was a “game-changer” because it would ensure that candidates will truthfully report the campaign donations they receive and their expenses.
“The Campaign Finance Unit is meant to monitor campaign finance spending and, later on, to validate the candidates’ statements of contributions and expenditures” Jimenez said in an interview.
“It changes the game because candidates are now put on notice that they cannot be artistic with their submission. There can be no liberties taken with the submission because we will go and back check everything,” he added.
For example, Jimenez said candidates sometimes “under declare” the cost of “services” donated to their campaigns.
“One of the most common strategies in the field is for example, if a candidate is (lent) a ship for his campaign, he will then under declare the value of such a service,” Jimenez said.
“So, what the CFU will do is to go to that region or locality and find out exactly how much it costs. If it’s cheaper, we’ll ask you to amend your report. But if its more expensive, then you’re in trouble,” he added.
Jimenez said those who submit erroneous campaign expenses reports to the Comelec was committing an election offense.