• Donation cap hurts poor candidates

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    Setting a cap on campaign contributions will deprive deserving candidates of worthy donors, lawmakers said Thursday.

    Re-elected Reps. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao, Sherwin Tugna of Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption and Carol Jayne Lopez of You Against Corruption made the comment in light of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Christian Robert Lim’s disclosure that the poll body is considering on putting a cap on campaign contributions to stop candidates from using the polls to raise funding for their own consumption, and not really to win the election.

    “That is not good because it limits capacity of less-moneyed but good candidates to solicit campaign contributions from well-meaning donors,” Baguilat, who belongs to the ruling Liberal Party, said in a text message.

    Baguilat, chairman of the House Committee on National Cultural Communities, then argued that the fact that there is a cap on campaign expenditure for candidates and airtime on their political advertisements should suffice to level the playing field.

    “Rather than put a cap on donations, it would be best for the Comelec to push for political parties law to provide stare subsidy to political parties and genuine candidates,” Baguilat added.

    Unconstitutional
    House Assistant Majority Leader Tugna agreed with Baguilat, saying that the proposal means well but is not provided by law.

    “It would be legally unconstitutional because it will be putting a property requirement, having a required amount of campaign funds at the very least, to be able to exercise the right to be a candidate,” Tugna, a lawyer, pointed out.

    Lopez, for her part, argued that the Comelec’s decision on the legitimacy of the candidates, more than the amount of campaign contributions, is a better basis in determining who is running for a post in good faith or otherwise.

    “The proposal should call for an amendment of our election laws as it limits an individual’s right to choose to whom he/she can dispose of his/her gratuity. At any rate, any candidate’s potential to win may be properly determined by the Comelec when it declares a candidate a nuisance one,” Lopez added in a separate text message.

    Right button
    But for Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, the Comelec is pushing the right button.

    Colmenares, the vice chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, invoked that the fact that there is a cap for campaign spending for every voter should restrain candidates from accepting donations which is beyond their election expenditure.

    “A genuine candidate of the people should get elected on the basis of his advocacy and not on the basis of his wealth,” Colmenares, also a lawyer, said in closing.

    Colmenares’ Bayan Muna party-list is a part of the Makabayan bloc, alongside incumbent party-list representatives Anakpawis, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Gabriela and Kabataan.

    Makabayan fielded a lone Senate bet in the May polls, Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna. Casiño, however, badly lost in the race and did not even finish in the top 20.

    Llanesca T. Panti

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