MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may now disqualify candidates from the polls for excessive spending and illegal use of campaign funds.
The Comelec promulgated on January 31 Resolution 9629, which enumerated the following acts relating to campaign finance and election spending as valid reasons to disqualify a candidate:
- giving money or other materials to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions;
- spending in election campaign an amount in excess of the allowable amount;
- soliciting, receiving or making any prohibited contribution;
- committing unlawful electioneering;
- releasing, disbursing or expending any public funds for public works;
- soliciting votes or undertaking any propaganda on the day of election, for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling place or within a radius of 30 meter;
- failing to submit his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures in relation to at least two elections, in which case the penalty shall be perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
A previous Comelec resolution setting disqualification guidelines—Resolution 2503—did not mention the acts above, and only stated that a candidate will be disqualified if he “is declared by final decision of a competent court, guilty of, or found by the Commission to be suffering from any disqualification provided by law or the Constitution.”
The poll body explained in the new resolution that campaign spending violations have been specified “to enforce campaign finance laws as a means of guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for public service.”
Also, the Comelec waived the accompanying fee for filing disqualification cases against candidates on these grounds. This is “to encourage the people’s involvement in public affairs and empower them to participate in matters of public concern.”
Petitions to disqualify a candidate will be accepted not later than the date of the candidate’s proclamation.
Earlier, the Comelec created the Campaign Finance Unit, which will monitor campaign contributions and spending during elections. The poll body Comelec also deputized the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the Commission on Audit, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to assist poll officials in monitoring candidates’ compliance with the country’s campaign finance laws. – Rappler.com