Comelec amends campaign finance rules

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 27 2012 11:40 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2012 07:40 AM

MANILA -  The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc will penalize political parties that will file late statements of election contributions and expenditures (SECEs) for the 2013 mid-term elections.

The poll body's Resolution 9558 has amended Resolution 9476, or the rules and regulations governing campaign finance and disclosure.

The new resolution states: “The amount of the administrative fine to be imposed on the candidate who failed to file his or her statement or report or on the party whose treasurer failed to file the statement or report on its behalf as herein required shall depend on: (1) the elective position he or she vied for, or in the case of political parties, the size of its constituency; and (2) whether the failure to do so was his or her or the party’s first or second offense.”

However, under the new regulations, the maximum penalty for 2nd-time offenders is only P60,000 while the lowest possible fine is P10,000.

The poll body is creating a campaign finance unit to monitor the filing of SECEs. Its main tasks include:

a. Monitor fund raising and spending activities;

b. Receive and keep reports and statements of candidates, parties, contributors and election contractors, and advertising contracts of mass media entities;

c. Compile and analyze the reports and statements as soon as they are received and make an initial determination of compliance;

d. Develop and manage a recording system for all reports, statements, and contracts received by it and to digitize information contained therein;

e. Publish the digitized information gathered from the reports, statements and contracts and make them available to the public;

f.  Develop a reportorial and monitoring system;

g. Audit all reports, statements and contracts and determine compliance by the candidates, parties, contributors, and election contractors, including the inspection of Books and records of candidates, parties and mass media entities and issue subpoenas in relation thereto and submit its findings to the commission en banc;

h. Coordinate with and/or assist other departments/offices of the Commission receiving related reports on Campaign Finance including prosecution of violators and collection of fines and/or imposition of perpetual disqualification; and perform other functions as ordered by the commission.
SECEs are due 30 days after the election. Campaign contributions are exempted from a donor's tax but unspent campaign contributions are subject to income tax.

The following are banned from making contributions:

 i.   Public or private financial institutions. However, nothing prevents the making of any loan to a candidate or political party by any such public or private financial institutions legally in the business of lending money, provided that the loan is made in accordance with laws and regulations and in the ordinary course of business;

j.   Natural and juridical persons operating a public utility or in possession of or exploiting any natural resources of the nation;

k.  Natural and juridical persons who hold contracts or subcontracts to supply the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions or instrumentalities, with goods or services or to perform construction or other works;

l.   Natural and juridical persons who have been granted franchises, incentives, exemptions, allocations, or similar privileges or concessions by the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions, or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations;

m. Natural and juridical persons who, within one year prior to the date of the elections, have been granted loans or other accommodations in excess of P100,000.00 by the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions, or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations;

n. Educational institutions which have received grants of public funds amounting to no less than PhP100,000.00;

o. Official and employees in the Civil Service or members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and

p. Foreigners and foreign corporations. [OEC, Sec. 95]

The Comelec also bans the following forms of fund raising: "dances, lotteries, cockfights, games, boxing bouts, bingo, beauty contests, entertainments or cinematographic, theatrical or other performances for the purpose of raising funds for an election campaign or for the support of any candidate from the commencement of the election period up to and including election day."

Meantime, a candidate, his or her spouse, or any relative within the second civil degree of consanguinity (up to grandparents, grandchildren, brothers and sisters) or affinity (up to grandparents-in-law, or grandchildren-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law) or his campaign manager, agent or representative are also prohibited during the campaign period, on the day before, and on the day of the election, from making "any donation, contribution or gift, in cash or in kind, or undertake or contribute to the construction or repair of roads, bridges, schoolhouses, puericulture centers, medical clinics and hospitals, churches or chapels, cement pavements or any structures for public use or for the use of any religious or civic organizations."

The same prohibition applies to treasurers, agents or representatives of any political party.

The rules also impose a cap on the amount that a candidate or party may spend for an election campaign:

a. President and Vice-President - P10 for every registered voter.

b. For other candidates --- P3 for every voter currently registered in the constituency where the candidate filed his certificate of candidacy.

c. Candidate without any political party and without support from any political party -- P5 for every voter currently registered in the constituency where the candidate filed his certificate of candidacy; and

d. Political parties and party-list groups --- P5 for every voter currently registered in the constituency or constituencies where it has official candidates. [RA 7166, Section 13, Paragraphs 2 and 3]