MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has created the Campaign Finance Unit (CFU) to scrutinize the statement of campaign contributions and expenditures (SOCE) of candidates in the May 13 elections.
“The commission wants to implement strictly the laws on elections, particularly the rules on campaign finance. The purpose is to make sure that figures on the SOCE are true and correct,” Comelec Law Department director Esperanza Ladra said.
Ladra was tasked to designate employees from the department to monitor the senatorial bets and their political parties as well as the party-list organizations participating in the coming polls.
Ladra said they would monitor if the candidates – winners and losers – have submitted their SOCE within 30 days after election day.
“In the past, they would just put any amount in the SOCE – whether it’s true or not – and then that’s it. We were not able to monitor each and every item,” she said.
Under Resolution 9616, the Comelec has officially deputized for the first time the Commission on Audit (COA), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), law enforcement agencies and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in identifying and prosecuting violators of campaign finance rules.
While admitting the present limits for campaign expenditures are no longer realistic considering the present cost of living, Ladra said they still have to implement what the law requires.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 9476 or the Rules and Regulations Governing Campaign Finance and Disclosures, candidates for president and vice president can spend P10 per voter.
For other candidates, the limit is P3 per voter in the constituency where they are running. Candidates without political party and without support from any political party can spend P5 per voter.
Political parties and party-list groups, on the other hand, could spend P5 for every voter in the constituency where it has official candidates.
Ladra added that among the primary concerns of the Comelec is the rampant violation of the requirements that all candidates should file SOCE within 30 days after election day.
Ladra said no one had been prosecuted for violating the policy.
In order to ensure adherence to campaign finance rules, the Comelec will take the initiative in filing the charges against violators without waiting for any formal complaint.
Ladra added the Comelec is hoping to strictly monitor the expenses of the candidates and make sure they stick to the rules.
Meanwhile, the Comelec is facing yet another legal battle before the Supreme Court (SC) after a private firm questioned the legality of the poll body’s contract with Smartmatic International Corp. for the purchase of compact flash (CF) cards that would be used in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the automated polls.
LDLA Marketing, a bidder disqualified by the Comelec for the contract, sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the deal, arguing there was violation of requirements for public bidding under the law.
In a 13-page petition, LDLA said Comelec Resolution No. 9600 dated Dec. 27, 2012, which awarded the contract to Smartmatic, “carries so many badges of fraud.”
“With the haste of Respondent Comelec to award the procurement contract...(it) has sadly failed its duty to the Republic to credibly and legally conduct elections through the due enforcement of all laws and regulations regarding the conduct of elections, plebiscite, initiative and referendum,” LDLA said.
In questioning the contract, the firm cited its disqualification from the first bidding supposedly because its past completed projects were not “notarized.”