Bare campaign donors, candidates dared
A POLL watchdog and a lawyers group have challenged candidates in the 2016 elections to be transparent about their financial backers to give voters an idea of how things might be should they win.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) urged candidates to reveal their donors and contributors before the campaign season even if they are not legally bound to do so.
“This measure of transparency would show us that these candidates are not hiding anything from us,” said IBP national president and Lente chair Rose Setias-Reyes.
Her statement came on the heels of the Nielsen monitoring report on the spending of national candidates from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2015.
The report showed three presidential candidates each spent more than half a billion pesos on ads for TV, radio and print in the first 11 months last year—months before the start of the election campaign season on Feb. 9.
Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas spent P774.192 million or P70.38 million a month; Vice President Jejomar Binay, P695.55 million or P63.23 million a month; and Sen. Grace Poe, P694.603 million or P63.14 million a month.
Reyes said it was not enough for these candidates to declare that the financial support came from “friends and family.”
“We need to know who these friends and family are.”
Lente executive director Rona Ann Caritos underscored the importance of disclosing sources of campaign funds.
“Campaign finance has been proven to have a direct link to governance, corruption, proliferation of political dynasties and unlawful use of government funds,” said Caritos.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has repeatedly cited a loophole in the law which prevents the agency from prohibiting political aspirants from engaging in premature campaigning through TV ads and going after them.
Earlier, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said the election body could only monitor spending during the campaign period and that it was up to the voters whether or not they would support candidates who spend so much on TV ads.