• Comelec seeks cap on campaign expenses

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    THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is planning to endorse a measure that seeks to put a ceiling on the amount of money that candidates can accept and spend for their campaign in the 2016 polls.

    Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim said they will urge lawmakers to institutionalize a limit on campaign contributions.

    “What we want is for candidates not to accept more than what they are allowed to spend. If your limitation says P153 million, then you should not accept more than P153 million,” Lim explained.

    The commissioner pointed out that the proposed law would set limitations for expenditures during the entire campaign period.

    Republic Act 7166 provides that candidates are only allowed to spend P3 for every voter currently registered in the constituency, or where he filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) plus another P5 from his political party; while independent candidates can spend up to P5 for every registered voter.

    Lim noted that their proposal is to set a cap at P10 to P20 per registered voter.

    “We still have to consult the National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas because they are more competent with regards to economic factors like inflation. Having an inter-agency would be better,” the poll official said.

    Lim also explained that the lack of contribution limitation indirectly encourages candidates to overspend and possibly resort to bribery and vote-buying.

    “It encourages the candidate to exceed and then just under-declare it in his SECE [Statements of Election Contributions and Expenditures]. The leeway, also allows the system to be a money-making [scheme]. . . If you just continue to accept as much as possible, isn’t that tantamount to bribery, especially if you are an incumbent official?” he said.

    During the 2010 presidential elections, President Benigno Aquino 3rd received a total of P440.05 million for his campaign, of which P100 million was donated by businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco.

    His sisters also contributed to his campaign kitty with actress-host Kris Aquino donating P15 million; Pinky Aquino-Abellardo, P5 million; and Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, P3 million.

    Based also on Mr. Aquino’s SECE, his top donors were businessmen Martin Ignacio Lorenzo of Del Monte Philippines giving out P20 million; Bu Hong Chiong from Ozamis City, P20 million; Leonardo Javier Jr. of Andoks, P14 million; David Lim and Elena Lim of the Solid Group of Companies, P10 million each; Felix Ang of Cats Motors, P10 million and Abeto Uy of Philsteel Group of Companies with P10 million, among others.

    The last day of SECE filing by all candidates who joined the May 13 polls will be on Thursday.

    Johanna M. Sampan

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