Comelec disqualifies Laguna gov for campaign overspending

Rappler.com
(UPDATED) The Commission on Elections' 1st division says ER Ejercito spent over P6 million in television advertisement alone. He is allowed to spent only P4.5 million on his campaign.

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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A division of the poll body resolved on Thursday, September 26, to disqualify Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito for campaign overspending.

Ejercito, who was elected for a second term in May, was found to have spent over P6 million in television advertisement alone, according to a Commission on Elections (Comelec) press release quoting Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.

Comelec Resolution 9615, or the implementing rules and regulations of the Fair Elections Act, states that a candidate is allowed to spend only P3 for every voter registered in the area where the candidate filed his certificate of candidacy.

Since Laguna had 1,525,522 registered voters for the May 2013 elections, Ejercito was only allowed to spend P4.5 million for his campaign.

While Comelec rules allow a candidate’s political party to spend P5 per registered voter, that amount has to be divided among bets on the ticket. Whatever amount his party, the United Nationalist Alliance, spent on Ejercito would not likely be enough to fill the gap between the allowable spending and his actual expenses.

When he ran for re-election in May under the national opposition, Ejercito had a lone challenger, former congressman Edgar San Luis of the ruling Liberal Party. He defeated San Luis by 100,000 votes. Ejercito gathered 549,310 votes.

Ejercito, a former 3-term mayor of Pagsanjan, is the nephew of former President Joseph Estrada.

Brillantes said the poll body’s order disqualifying an elected official levels the playing field in the electoral process.

Hindi po kami nagbibiro (We are not playing around),” he said, adding that they are preparing to file election offense cases against other candidates.

The Comelec 1st division is composed of commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Christian Robert Lim, and Al Parreño.

Ejercito is entitled to appeal his disqualified with the Comelec en banc. He has 5 days to file a motion.

When asked about Ejercito’s disqualification, Vice president and UNA president Jejomar Binay said that the government may have been looking too much at the opposition — the same sentiment echoed by Sen Jinggoy Estrada in his Senate speech on Wednesday.

“Overspending? I don’t know if someone has already been disqualified due to overspending,” Binay added.

So far, the only candidate disqualified by Comelec for overspending has been the late former Senator Raul Manglapus, who declared that he actually overspent during a senatorial election in the 1960s. – Rappler.com

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