MANILA—As campaign period kicks off next week, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon on Monday called for a stronger campaign regulation in the country to prevent what he called an “outrageous, ridiculous and out of control” election spending.
“I am calling on the Commission of Election to exercise a stronger regulation of expenses of politicians before and during the actual campaign period,” Drilon said.
“The campaign spending in the country is outrageous. Any way you look at it, the election in the country is one of the most expensive in the world,” he added.
Drilon said that it is part of the duties of the Comelec to make sure that the election will be fair to all by ensuring that the candidates will not exceed the limit on the amount of campaign spending and that they follow the campaign regulations.
“The Comelec should implement a strong disclosure requirement for all candidates and it must devise a more effective mechanism to look into the campaign expenses of every candidate,” Drilon added.
The Senate chief also believed that there is a need to revisit and update the country’s election laws, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision (Comelec vs. Penera) where it ruled that a person running for a public office will officially become a candidate at the start of the campaign period.
Drilon said that that is where the problem lies because politicians embark on heavy political ads and campaign promotion to gain popularity among the voters before the start of the campaign period, fully aware that their spending would eventually be restricted when the campaign period kicks off.
“It is about time that we review and strengthen the laws that govern elections in the country with the end view of providing for an adequate campaign regulation,” Drilon said.
Drilon also said that is it is also incumbent upon the candidates to self-regulate their campaign spending and make the election an issue-based rather than personality-centered.
“It is about time that we move from a popularity-based campaign to an issue-based election. The candidates should be able to explain their platform of governance by which their strengths and worthiness as a candidate will be judged by the voting public.”
He also warned the voters against candidates that rely on hefty political advertisements to gain popularity but do not present a clear action plan on issues confronting the nation.
“Election should not be personality based. Anyone who wants to run for a public office should show the people that he or she is best-equipped to effect positive changes in the lives of Filipinos especially the poor,” Drilon said.