Reelected party-list representatives are skeptical over the plan of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to set a ceiling on campaign contributions.
Party-list representatives Sherwin Tugna of Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption and Carol Jayne Lopez of You Against Corruption made the comments in light of the disclosure of Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim that the poll body is mulling 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.
Tugna, who also serves as the House Assistant Majority Leader, noted that while the intention of the proposal is good, it is not provided by law.
“It is a good idea but 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.
The existing election laws only provide for caps on the candidates’ election spending and political advertisement airtime on television and radio stations.
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.
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.