Watchdog backs poll spending hike
The election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) backed a pending proposal to increase the limit of campaign expenditures.
PPCRV chair Rene Sarmiento said the adjustment was “long overdue” because the spending limit set more than two decades ago can no longer cover the current cost of mounting a campaign.
“Many changes had taken place since then. Prices of basic and less basic commodities and our population has risen astronomically, so has our voting population,” Sarmiento said.
“Time to review this anachronistic provision and make it realistic and responsive,” he added in a statement posted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
He expressed support after the House of Representatives approved on Tuesday House Bill No. 7295, which adjusts the authorized campaign expenses to a “more realistic level.”
Under the bill, presidential candidates would be allowed to spend P2.7 billion, while vice presidential candidates can spend around P2.2 billion.
The bill also grants a 1,000-percent increase in the spending limit of candidates hoping to become senators, congressmen, governors, vice governors, board members, mayors, vice mayors or councilors.
Independent candidates would be allowed to spend P40 for each voter, up from the current P5. The spending limit for political parties was also raised from P5 to P30.
In the 2016 presidential elections, Nielsen data showed that prior to the start of the official election season, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, former Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Grace Poe already spent a combined P2.2 billion on TV, radio and print ads.
But the Comelec was limited in taking action against candidates because the accounting of campaign expenditures does not cover expenses made before the election period.
The poll body, however, unseated Laguna Gov. Emilio Ramon Ejercito in 2013 after he was found to have exceeded the spending cap of around P4.6 million.
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