GMA's Campaign Expenses and Contributions

PCIJ RESEARCH

Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo
















Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo
EARLIER this week, Sen. Panfilo Lacson accused First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo of siphoning off P270 million in the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's excess campaign contributions and "parking them" in a foundation and secret bank accounts.

The PCIJ re-examined the declaration of campaign contributions and expenses that President Arroyo filed at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after she ran for vice president in 1998. These records show no indication of the huge amounts of money that Lacson claimed she received during the campaign. But they shed light on who Arroyo's biggest contributors were: her family and her lawyers.

Arroyo's husband, her mother Evangeline Macapagal and her other relatives forked out P27,461,432 or more than half of the P50,211,432 million she raised for her campaign.

Lawyers at the Carpio Villaraza and Cruz law office, known more popularly these days as "The Firm" because of the clout it supposedly wields over Arroyo, accounted for P11.5 million or close to one-fourth of the contributions, according to the Comelec report. The Lakas-NUCD, the party under which Arroyo ran, contributed P1 million to her campaign kitty.

Family members whom Arroyo said contributed to her campaign were her husband, P5,711,432; mother, P2 million; brother Diosdado Macapagal Jr., P5 million; daughter Ma. Lourdes, P250,000; and brother-in-law Ignacio Arroyo Jr., P5 million. Her husband's family corporation, the LTA Inc., donated P9.5 million.

Lawyers at "The Firm" listed as Arroyo's donors were senior partners F. Arthur Villaraza, P5 million; Avelino J. Cruz Jr., P5 million; Raoul Angangco, P750,000; and Simeon V. Marcelo, P750,000.

Also in the list of contributors were lawyer Manuel A. Barcelona Jr., principal partner of the Barcelona, Barcelona and Magdamit Law Offices, and his son Manuel Barcelona III, who donated P500,000 and P100,000, respectively; and Helen Osias, whose contribution totaled P500,000.

When she became president in January 2001 following the second "people power" uprising that toppled then president Joseph Estrada, Arroyo named a number of her contributors to government positions.

Cruz is now the presidential chief legal counsel. Marcelo was initially appointed solicitor general; he is now Ombudsman. Osias was given a seat in the board of the United Coconut Planters Bank. Although his name does not appear among the contributors, Antonio Carpio, "The Firm's" founding partner, was appointed Supreme Court justice.

According to Arroyo's report, she spent everything she raised. A total of P24.46 million or close of half went to the printing of her posters and streamers.

Arroyo's declared contributions and expenses were P1.03 million shy from the limits set by the Comelec on campaign spending. The electoral law allows a candidate to spend P1.50 for every voter and a political party to spend as much. There were 34,163,465 registered voters in the 1998 elections. This means a candidate for national office (president, vice president or senator) could have spent as much as P51,245,197.50.

However, the limits set by law apply to expenditures and contributions only during the 90-day campaign period. The Philippines has no laws regulating political finance outside the 90-day campaign period, including limits on spending or contributions. Politicians and political parties are known to be continuously raising funds long after an election has been concluded, in preparation for the next race.

Some politicians are also known to form foundations that accept donations purportedly for their projects, but accounting of these funds has always been problematic, as in the case of Estrada's Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, which received P200 million from jueteng proceeds, and now Arroyo's Lualhati Foundation, which Lacson claimed received over P40 million in contributions from various individuals.

In 1999, the Lualhati Foundation got P8 million from Mark Jimenez, at the time a business associate of Estrada who was wanted in the U.S. on fraud and tax evasion charges. Jimenez later successfully ran for a seat in the House of Representatives, representing Manila's sixth district, but was subsequently extradited to the U.S.



View documents (in pdf format) of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s campaign expenses and contributions after she ran for vice president in 1998.

Further Read
Investigating Campaign Funds

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