Comelec chief wants campaign spending limit increased

Mags Ardenia,

Posted at Oct 14 2015 08:28 AM

MANILA - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista on Tuesday called on Congress to amend the law on campaign expenditures limit.

Bautista said they already tapped both the lower and the upper house on the issue.

According to Bautista, there is in fact a pending bill amending the law on campaign expenditures limit authored by House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms Chair Rep. Fred Castro.

“Hopefully Congress will act upon it because otherwise, the Comelec will be duty-bound to implement the current law,” he said.

Bautista said the commission has issues on the campaign expenditures limit as it is still P10 per registered voter for presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

As Bautista would compute it, given 54 million registered voters and an additional budget of P5 per registered voter for political parties, a presidential or a vice-presidential bet can spend a maximum of around 800 million for the campaigns.

But Bautista is not convinced that such amount is enough for those running for the top two positions.

“If you talk to people, they’ll say that’s not the case, because if you just look at the ads, they were already ballooned,” Bautista said.

Moreover, Bautista said Comelec has a limited power over the issue of premature campaigning. The election chief said they cannot account the pre-campaign spending of candidates since the allowable campaign expenditures are only computed at the start of campaign period.

Bautista added that the Comelec cannot prohibit the release of premature political ads even after the filing of certificate of candidacy, and thus he called on the voters to be critical.

“The challenge is up to our voters to really be able to discern what they think is behavior that is still acceptable or it’s already gone beyond the accepted limit,” Bautista said.