House passes bill increasing campaign expenses’ cap for candidates

Mara Cepeda
If passed into law, HB 6095 would allow candidates for president, vice president, and senators to spend P50 per voter, from the current P10

CAMPAIGN SEASON. In this file photo during the 2016 elections, a man walks past campaign banners of local politicians at Fairview in Quezon City. File photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives gave its nod to a bill seeking to allow candidates and political parties to spend more per voter during the campaign period.

On Monday, June 1, a total of 213 lawmakers voted yes to House Bill 6095 on its 3rd and final reading. Only 6 legislators voted no and one abstained from the vote. 

If passed into law, HB 6095 will increase the allowed campaign expenditure of candidates and political parties for every voter registered in the constituency where they filed their certificates of candidacy.

The bill would be amending provisions of Republic Act 7166 or the law on the synchronized national and local elections.

Campaign overspending is prohibited under the Omnibus Election Code. This election offense merits imprisonment of one year to 6 years, disqualification from holding public office, and removal of one’s right to vote.

HB 6095 proposes to increase the allowed campaign expenses per voter as follows: 

Position Campaign expense cap per voter under RA 7166 Campaign expense cap per voter proposed by HB 6095
President P10 P50
Vice President P10 P50
Senators P3 P50
Other candidates like district representatives, governor, vice governor, board members, mayor, vice mayor, councilors P3 P30
National candidates of political parties P5 P50
Local candidates of political parties N/A P30

The bill would also authorize the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the National Economic and Development Authority, and the Philippine Statistics Authority to adjust the amounts of authorized campaign expenses every 6 years.

The Senate version of HB 6095 already hurdled the committee level. It has to be passed on 2nd and 3rd readings before the bill can be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

This is not the first time lawmakers had pushed for a bill increasing the amount of allowed campaign expenditure under the Duterte presidency.  

In the previous 17th Congress, the House passed a similar measure in May 2018, but it did not fly in the Senate. 

In the 2019 midterm elections, former interior secretary and defeated senatorial bet Mar Roxas was the biggest spender with P179,193,153.04, with contributions amounting to P167,050,000.00. He ran under the once-ruling Liberal Party. (READ: How much did Senate bets spend, receive in 2019 election campaign?) 

Among the winning senators, ex-presidential aide Bong Go spent the most at P161,418,299.31, with P162,035,537.34 worth of contributions. Senate race topnotcher Cynthia Villar spent P135,529,061.09 and reported no contributions. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.