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Lawmakers seek higher caps for poll spending

/ 05:58 AM July 13, 2015

With the full backing of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Lower House is hoping to increase the cap on campaign spending by five to 10 times over current rates in time for next year’s elections.

Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, chair of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said he would file this week a bill to amend Republic Act No. 7116 to make the election spending ceiling “more realistic and attuned to current conditions.”

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Based on his draft bill, Castro proposed that the campaign spending cap be raised to P30 for all candidates; P50 for presidential bets; and P35 for vice president and senatorial bets. The bill provides that candidates with no political parties be allowed to spend an additional P5 per voter.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he would support the change in spending caps, which was already incorporated in his pending bill to strengthen the political party system in the country by allowing political parties to spend up to P20 per voter for each of its candidate.

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He proposed that campaign spending caps be adjusted every election in order to reflect inflation movements.

Parañaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said the current spending limits had unduly placed several candidates under a cloud of doubt for failing to observe this “unreasonable” curb on their campaign spending.

Tambunting said the Comelec and Congress should sit down together to determine how much adjustment should be made in spending caps.

In a presentation to the House committee last week, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said it was about time Congress amended the 25-year-old Republic Act No. 7166, describing it as “unrealistic” with the rise in prices of goods and services in the country.

Under that law, all candidates are allowed to personally spend only P3 for every voter while presidential and vice presidential candidates have a P10 spending cap per voter. The law permits higher spending through political parties, authorizing an additional P5 spending cap for each voter.

At current spending limits, a presidential candidate is allowed to spend only as much as P537.862 million based on P10 cap for each of the 53,786,223 registered voters based on the Oct. 28, 2013 barangay elections.

Political pundits reckon that a presidential campaign would require at least P2 billion. Under Castro’s proposal, the spending cap would be raised to P2.65 billion for the presidential candidate.

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TAGS: Comelec, Commission on Elections, poll spending
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