ROMUALDEZ: COMELEC SHOULD STRICTLY IMPLEMENT RULES ON POLL EXPENSES
• September 4, 2014
• Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
• Published in Top Stories
HOUSE leaders yesterday said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should religiously and strictly implement the Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) in the 2016 presidential polls to level the playing field among candidates.
This after the Supreme Court (SC) struck down the air time limit on campaign ads.
“We respect the Supreme Court as the highest court of the land and the court of last resort. With this, the Comelec must be more strict and religious in implementing the law on expenditures to level the playing field,” said House independent bloc leader and Leyte (1st District) Rep. Ferdinand Martin “FM” G. Romualdez, a lawyer and president of Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), pointed out.
Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. admitted he was against the SC ruling as he lamented that candidates could violate Republic Act (RA) No. 7166 or the SOCE.
“Well, actually there’s a money limit to spending, but it could be circumvented. Frankly, I believe the Comelec was right in imposing a limit. It certainly benefits the rich candidates,” Belmonte stressed after Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes announced that it would not appeal the ruling.
Parañaque City Rep. Gus Tambunting echoed Belmonte’s concern. “The Comelec can still level the playing field by making sure election spending rules are followed. Even with existing law on time limits, those elected are well off. Have we elected a poor president, vice president or senator?”
Nevertheless, Tambunting said “the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the law, so the ruling must be respected.”
House Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III and Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz said rich candidates would benefit from the SC decision.
“This will be favorable to the moneyed candidates. However, there is still a limit being imposed by the Comelec on a candidate on allowable expense per voter. Having said that, there is still a limit to the moneyed candidates. Good platform and good name win elections and the perfect example is PNoy (President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III),” said Tugna.
“The rich candidates always have the advantage. What’s new?” Albano pointed out.
For his part, De la Cruz said “it can really work to the advantage of rich candidates and promote a culture of one minute slogan rather than one designed for serious discussion of the issues.”
The SC assailed the Comelec’s actions on air time, branding it as “arbitrary.”
The High Tribunal voted unanimously to “partially” grant the petitions filed by GMA Network, ABC Development Corp., ABS-CBN, Manila Broadcasting Company and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas challenging the Comelec Resolution 9615 as amended by Resolution 9631.
After the 2013 polls, Brillantes said the poll body intends to implement strictly the rules on campaign finance, including the requirement for both the losing and winning bets to file their SOCE.
Under RA No. 7166, candidates for president and vice president may spend only P10 per voter.
Other candidates having political party support may spend only P3 per voter, while those without political party nomination can spend P5 for every voter.
A political party shall spend P5 for every voter registered in the constituency where it has official candidates.