Our latest report inquires into the apparent breach of ethics and tax laws that the top candidates for president and vice president and their donors have to address on account of over a billion pesos they have altogether spent on pre-campaign political advertisements from Nov. 1, 2009 to Feb. 8, 2010.

Because the campaign period started only last February 9 – and they were not as yet considered candidates – these aspirants who are incumbent senators, mayors, and public officials should have fully conformed with the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713, which stipulates that they should not receive any gifts or donations of any sort or amount in the course of their official duties or in any operation being regulated by, or any transaction that may be affected by, the functions of their office.

In truth, these candidates who are still public officials should not have received donations in cash or kind from any parties for political ads that focus primarily on their common pecuniary interest: To get elected to high office. But taped copies of their political ads that aired on national television before February 9 invariably carried the salutary notice, “paid for by friends of….”

Other than the candidates, tax laws should also apply to their still unnamed donors. Because election campaign laws were not in effect as yet, these donors, whether private persons or corporate entities, should have paid donors’ taxes on the amounts they gave to finance their favored candidates’ political ads. These donors, moreover, should have reported and paid the donors’ tax within 30 days from the date of transaction, or until last March 9, according to tax laws.

The PCIJ produced this report as part of our commitments to the Pera’t Pulitika (PAP) 2010 Consortium that is focusing on campaign finance issues and reforms. The PAP 2010 includes, apart from the PCIJ, the Consortium on Electoral Reforms (CER), Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines (ASPAP), and the Lawyers’ League for Liberty (Libertas).

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