Outrageous spending

WE HEARD that a candidate for governor in the recent midterm elections had a budget of over a billion pesos. Imagine how big those running for national posts spent. The election campaign spending in this country is outrageous. Any way you look at it, ours is among the most expensive in the world.

Under our election laws, every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within 30 days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election.

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 – this is what the law says.

It is interesting to see how full and true the candidates’ – winners and losers alike – election spending reports would be.

The truth here is that there must be stronger campaign regulation to prevent a ridiculous and out-of-control election spending. Can the Comelec do this?

The reality on the ground is that 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.

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. After all, it is part of its duties to make sure that elections are fair to all by ensuring that the candidates do not exceed the limit on the amount of campaign spending and that they follow the campaign regulations.

Yes, the recent midterm poll was not only vicious and divisive; it was also one of the most expensive in the country’s election history. We have over 100 million population. If these billions of pesos in campaign budget are given to each Filipino (say P1 million for every Juan dela Cruz), theoretically there would be no poor people in the country, right?

Candidates promising to eradicate poverty should put their money where their mouths are.


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