MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) found that 69 candidates for congressional and local positions exceeded campaign spending limits in the last two elections.
However, one of those 2010 congressional candidates, now Senator JV Ejercito, questioned his inclusion in the list, saying he could not have overspent.
The Comelec Campaign Finance Unit (CFU) filed overspending complaints against 25 candidates between September 25 and 30, 2014. These candidates (listed below) are undergoing preliminary investigation by the Comelec law department:
Candidates for representative
Candidates for governor
Candidates for board member
Candidates for mayor
Candidates for vice mayor
Candidate for councilor
The Comelec will release the names of the 44 other candidates once the complaints against them have been filed, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told Rappler.
The complaints were based on the statements of election contributions and expenses (SOCE) that the candidates submitted to the poll body, said the Comelec law department.
After their preliminary investigations, the law department said that they would submit recommendations to the Comelec en banc, which could then decide to file cases in court against the candidates.
If found guilty of campaign overspending, the candidates would face 1 to 6 years of imprisonment, disqualification from public office, and deprivation of right to suffrage.
Ejercito, who ran for representative of San Juan City in 2010, said that he could not have overspent. He was elected to the Senate in 2013.
"I ran unopposed [in 2010]. How can I overspend?" Ejercito said in a tweet on Tuesday, October 14.
COMELEC said I am one of those who overspent in the 2010 elections when I ran as Rep of San Juan. I RAN UNOPPOSED. How can I overspend? — JV Ejercito (@jvejercito) October 14, 2014
Republic Act 7166, or the Synchronized National and Local Elections Law, sets the following spending caps for candidates and political parties:
Overspending during the campaign period is among the grounds for a candidate's disqualification, according to Comelec Resolution No. 9629.
Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.