Pimentel wants higher cap for campaign expenses

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has re-filed a bill seeking to increase the campaign spending limit of candidates and political parties.

Pimentel filed Senate Bill 1178 seeking to amend Section 13 of the 25-year old Republic Act 7166 or the Synchronized Elections Law of 1991, to reflect the current economic landscape.

The president of PDP-Laban, the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte, said there is a “noticeable increase” in operational expenses during campaigns.

The senator filed a similar measure in the 16th Congress but it only reached second reading.

Pimentel said in his explanatory note that candidates have "had difficulty in trying to limit their spending in accordance with law because prices of materials and their printing and reproduction, mass media advertisements (which are now allowed), transportation, and other operational expenses have noticeably increased in the past two decades."

Citing data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the senator said there was a 259.5% increase in commodity prices from 1991 to 2015. The value of P1 then is now supposedly equivalent to P3.60. (READ: PH needs realistic election spending cap)

“These amounts show that the allowable limits for campaign spending are really outdated, most especially for local candidates who cannot take advantage of “economies of scale” in their purchase of materials, printing requirements, and even mass media placements,” he said.

Pimentel said the fact that the Commission on Elections has filed overspending charges against at least 35 local candidates for the 2010 and 2013 polls proves that the candidates are “struggling to spend within the allowable amounts provided by law.”

The bill, he claimed, would also be “beneficial” to voters as it would supposedly lead to “better voter education” and “awareness” of candidates’ platforms.

Price increase

RA 7166 limits the campaign expenditures of candidates.

Here is Pimentel’s proposal:

 

For barangay candidates, Pimentel said the limit should stay at P3 for every registered voter, as barangay elections are "non-partisan" and should be "less bloody" than other polls. 

In the House of Representatives, Quezon City Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr filed a similar measure to "accurately reflect the current economic landscape and allow candidates to pay the full and fair price of the goods and services they wish to engage." 

The bills have to undergo 3 hearings and a bicameral conference committee before it reaches the President's desk for possible signing into law. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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