THE COMMISSION on Elections has spelled out campaign finance rules that are clear about spending limits, reporting requirements and deadlines, and penalties. The clarity ends on paper, however.
The poll body has hardly enforced its rules, giving candidates and political parties free pass to circumvent and mock these, get away with patent violations, and even run again in the next elections. To date, no candidate for national office has been penalized for any violations, despite evidence that the rules have been played around with, and not so innocently.
This means that in practice, campaign finance laws are deadwood, even as they supposedly lay down the rules of engagement such as the following for candidates, political parties, party-list groups, and campaign donors:
- Within 30 days after the elections, candidates should report the amount of donations they had received and spent for their campaign in their Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SECEs).
- Campaign contributors or donors must report in individually signed affidavits the respective amounts they had contributed to candidates and political parties.
- Comelec would then countercheck the accuracy of these reports against various documents that it had also required from media entities, contractors, and firms that rendered campaign-related services.
- No person, except the candidate, the treasurer of a political party, or any person authorized by such candidate or treasurer, shall make any expenditure in support of or in opposition to any candidate or political party.
- For donations to be lawfully made and accepted, the candidate or the party treasurer must issue a letter of acceptance or a statement authorizing the donor to incur expenses on his or her behalf. Incurring expenditures for a candidate without the letter of acceptance or authorization is an election offense.
- Media entities must submit to the Comelec advertising contracts, broadcast logs, and certificates of performance within five days from signing of the contracts and before the airing/publication of the political ads.
- Contractors and business firms must submit reports on services and goods they provided the candidates and political parties.
- Statements of expenses on a public rally must be submitted by the candidates and political parties within 10 days after the conduct of the rally.
- Comelec Resolution No. 8758 or the implementing rules and regulations of the Fair Election Practices Act states that the “political advertisement paid for” clause must be followed by the “true and correct name and address of the candidate or party whose benefit the election propaganda was printed or aired.”
- The “political advertisement paid by” clause, meanwhile, must be followed by the “true and correct name and address of the payor.”
- Comelec Resolution No. 8944 or the rules and regulations governing electoral contributions and expenditures for the May 10, 2010 elections states, “No person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures.”
- The same prohibition applies if the political party, which nominated the winning candidates, fails to file the statement required.
- Candidates for national office are authorized to spend only P10 per voter or about P507 million. Spending beyond the expenditure limit set in law and the rules and regulations of the Commission is considered an election offense and is punishable under Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines.
- A registered political party is authorized to spend only P5 per voter or about P254 million for the 50.7 million registered voters as of the May 2010 elections.
- Anyone found guilty of any election offense shall be punished with imprisonment of one to six years and shall not be subject to probation. In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification from holding public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage.
- Any political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than P10,000, which shall be imposed upon such party after criminal action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been found guilty.