Curb poll spending, Comelec urged
MANILA, Philippines—An election watchdog group has appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure the strict regulation of campaign spending in the 2016 elections.
Limiting campaign spending will minimize the motivation for corrupt practices after the elections, according to Gov’t Watch, a group led by businessman Raul Concepcion.
“Overspending contributes to corruption because of the need to recover what the politicians spent,” Concepcion said in a statement.
He said the strict implementation of the law will give a fair chance for both the moneyed and the poor candidates to win public posts.
“The chances of qualified candidates, who are short on campaign funds, are decidedly slimmer (if campaign spending rules are not implemented),” Concepcion said.
He stressed that it is important for the poll body to strictly require candidates to submit valid and acceptable statements of contributions and expenditures.
“It is imperative for those running for public office, especially the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, to submit a list of their campaign expenditures, where they got their funds and who made contributions in the interest of transparency,” said Concepcion.
The Comelec assured Gov’t Watch that it fully intends to continue its strict implementation of campaign finance rules.
“We assure both Mr. Concepcion and the broader public that the Comelec stands firm on its commitment to strictly enforce campaign laws, including rules and regulations on campaign spending,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told reporters.
He said the poll body’s campaign finance unit was formed prior to the 2013 elections precisely for that purpose.
“As a result, hundreds of cases of overspending are being investigated, preparatory to the filing of the appropriate cases,” said Jimenez.
Section 100 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that no candidate should overspend for his election campaign more than the amount set by law.
According to Republic Act 7166 of 1991, every candidate for president and vice president is allowed to spend P10 for each voter, while other candidates can spend P3 for every voter registered in the constituency where the candidate had filed his candidacy certificate. Candidates’ political parties may also spend P5 for each voter.
Independent candidates, or those without any political party and without support from any political party, may spend P5 for every voter in the area they are running in.
An election offense carries the penalty of imprisonment of one to six years, disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.