Our latest report reveals the gaps and holes in the “Statement of Electoral Contributions and Expenses” that candidates for president, vice president and senator had filed since 1998.

The popular perception is that running an election campaign has the potential of reducing a candidate to penury. Yet none of those who had served or today want to serve as president and vice president has come close to breaching the spending limit – or even to going shirtless and hungry.

The PCIJ reviewed hundreds of pages of such statements that these candidates had filed with the Commission on Elections. Our findings reveal that so far most candidates for national office comply with the law perfunctorily. Most candidates seem inclined to understate and deflate their expenses, hide or shield the full details of donations they received and the identities of the donors, and offer only list of their expense items by general categories.

The most secretive are those who had run, and are running still, for the top rung of public office. They seemingly just filed the statements for filing’s sake, with little regard for the completeness and integrity of their reports. One could count by the fingers those who did well and resorted to nearly full disclosure of details.

Those who disclosed the donations they received but were stingy with details of their campaign expenditures include those who had captured the presidency – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Joseph Estrada — as well as some of those who seek it now.

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