Watchdog group to Comelec: Strictly enforce campaign spending rules in 2016

By on February 12, 2015

Political ads can be found everywhere during election season in the Philippines (Carlo Marco Simpao / flickr)
Political ads can be found everywhere during election season in the Philippines (Carlo Marco Simpao / flickr)

MANILA — A watchdog group asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for a stringent execution of campaign spending in the 2016 national and local polls.

Businessman Raul Concepcion, head of Gov’t Watch, said the strict implementation of the law would level the playing field to both moneyed and poor candidates.

“The chances of qualified candidates, who are short on campaign funds, are decidedly slimmer (if campaign spending rules are not implemented),” he said in a statement.

With this, the Gov’t Watch urged the poll body to strictly require candidates to submit valid and acceptable Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCEs)

“It is imperative for those running for public office, especially the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, to submit a list of their campaign expenditures, where they got their funds and who made contributions in the interest of transparency,” Concepcion said.

On the other hand, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez assured the group that they would continue to strictly implement campaign finance rules.

“We assure both Mr Concepcion and the broader public that the Comelec stands firm on its commitment to strictly enforce campaign laws, including rules and regulations on campaign spending,” he said in an interview.

The Campaign Finance Unit was formed by retired Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, before the 2013 national and local elections.

“It was formed precisely for this purpose, and that it has met a significant measure of success. As a result, more hundreds of cases of overspending are being investigated, preparatory to the filing of the appropriate cases,” Jimenez said.

Under Section 100 of the Omnibus Election Code states that no candidate shall overspend for his election campaign than the amount set by the law.

Based on Section 13 of Republic Act No. 7166 of 1991, every candidate for president and vice president is allowed to spend Php 10, while other bets can spend Php 3 for every voter currently registered in the constituency, where he filed his Certificate of Candidacy (COC). Their political parties may also spend Php 5 for them.

Independent candidates, or those without any political party and without support from any political party, may be allowed to spend Php 5 for every voter in the area they are running in.

An election offense carries the penalty of imprisonment of one to six years, disqualification to hold public office, and deprivation of the right of suffrage.