A Senate bill proposing an increase in the spending limit of candidates and political parties is finally due for plenary deliberations in the chamber, according to Senator Koko Pimentel.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation on Monday said the measure, which he re-filed after the bill did not reach past second reading approval in the previous Congress, was recently approved for floor deliberations.
He said that despite the increase in the cap in the campaign expenditures, Senate Bill No. 2072 proved that the amount to be spent “per voter” by candidates and political parties will have to remain conservative.
This is to discourage overspending and to ensure that all those participating in the poll exercise will be competing on equal footing with other candidates, said Pimentel, who is also president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban).
In the Committee Report No. 497, independent senatorial, party-list and other candidates may spend from P6 to P8 per voter.
Candidates who are running under a political party or being endorsed by political parties may spend P6 per voter, the report said.
For political parties, every voter currently registered in the constituency or constituencies where it has official candidates, the existing cap of P5 is increased to P8.
Under the bill, the aggregate amount that a candidate for president and vice president will remain at P10 for every voter.
In filing the bill which seeks to amend Section 13 of RA 7166 or “An Act Providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral Reforms, Authorizing Appropriations Therefor, and for Other Purposes,” Pimentel noted the existing rates are no longer realistic.
“For 25 years, the amounts limiting the expenses of candidates and political parties remained the same. Consequently, candidates 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,” Pimentel said when he introduced the bill in 2016.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has in fact filed cases of overspending before the courts against 35 local candidates for the 2010 and 2013 elections, he said.
It only goes to show that candidates are struggling to spend within the allowable amounts provided by law, the senator said.
“The best way to address the concern of our candidates, especially the local candidates, therefore, is to increase the amount of their allowable political campaign expenditure,” he explained.