‘Unrealistically low’ spending limits push bets to file false SOCE—US NGO
Filipinos vying for elective posts in the country are yet to be observant of the various campaign finance rules being imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), a United States-based think tank said in a recent report.
Pro-democracy non-government organization (NGO) Carter Center, which deployed an election observation mission in the country for the May 9 polls, noted various areas for improvement in implementing campaign finance rules such as the “unrealistically low” spending limits for candidates.
The center said that this low spending limit pushes candidates to declare false poll expenses reports.
“All mission interlocutors agree that the spending limits imposed on election campaigns are unrealistically low, and that candidates are in effect forced to file false declarations of expenses as a result,” the center’s report said.
The Comelec has set the campaign spending limits to P10 per registered voter for presidential and vice presidential posts, P5 per registered voter for independent senatorial candidates and P3 per registered voter for Senate bets.
With a total of 54,363,844 registered voters last elections, the campaign-spending limit for presidential and vice presidential aspirants is P543,638,440 per candidate; P271,819,220 for independent senatorial candidates, political parties, and party-list organizations; and P163,091,532 for senatorial candidates fielded by political parties—as computed by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).
The Center said that even the poll body admitted that further electoral cycles are needed to “establish an institutional climate in which compliance with campaign-finance regulations and declaration requirements is an accepted norm.”
“It is, however, believed that the fear of the consequences of non-compliance is growing. The level of prosecution of non-compliance following the 2016 elections will be important in maintaining the credibility of this growth,” the report said.
The issue of non-compliance of campaign finance rules has been put into fore lately as administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II failed to submit his statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) until the deadline last June 8.
The Comelec en banc, in a 4-3 vote, extended the filing of the SOCE until June 30.
Defeated presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe was the top spender in the recently concluded elections at P510 million. RAM
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