Comelec creates new unit to monitor campaign finances

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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The Campaign Finance Unit will receive and examine reports submitted by candidates and their contributors during the elections

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has created a unit that will monitor campaign contributions and spending during elections.

According to Comelec Resolution 9476, which outlines a new set of rules and regulations on electoral contributions, expenditures, and procedures, the Campaign Finance Unit (CFU) will receive and evaluate the candidates’ statement of expenditures and their contributors’ disclosure of campaign donations.

The CFU concept was proposed to the Comelec by Luie Tito Guia of the Lawyers’ League for Liberty (Libertas).

Guia said in his proposal that his principal aim was “to convince the Commission to create and develop a stable of experts in campaign finance monitoring, auditing, inspection and investigation within the Commission who would function on a regular basis in every future election.”

Guia cited the analysis made by the Pera at Pulitika coalition on the campaign expenditure of presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2010. Together with AGB Nielsen, the coalition compared the financial reports submitted to the Comelec and the candidates’ and parties’ actual TV and radio ad placements. They did not match.

“The analysis initially revealed that the official reports were not consistent with the actual advertisement published or shown on media. This was attributed not only to lack of serious enforcement and to unclear guidelines, but also to the porous laws and regulations governing campaign finance,” Guia said.


CFU will be claiming the functions that formerly belonged to the poll body’s law and education and information departments. The Law Department used to receive and examine these statements, while the Education and Information Department (EID) used to receive and examine advertising contracts and broadcast logs.

Under the Comelec resolution, the CFU will:

  • Monitor fund-raising and spending activities of candidates and parties
  • Receive and keep reports and statements of candidates, parties, contributors and election contractors, and advertising contracts of mass media entities
  • Develop and manage a recording system for all reports and digitize them
  • Publish and make available to the public the digitized information gathered from the reports
  • Determine compliance by the candidates, parties, contributors, and election contractors
  • Coordinate with other departments for prosecution of violators, collection of fines, and imposition of perpetual disqualification

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement that creating a separate CFU has the “potential to greatly increase Comelec’s ability to enforce election laws on campaign spending and donations [and] minimize the detrimental effects of opaque money politics.”

Jimenez said the CFU was formed in March under Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim.

The Omnibus Elections Code states that every person who contributes to the campaign of a candidate or a political party shall file with the poll body a report of contributions within 30 days after the election day.

CFU is authorized to coordinate with the following agencies to fully enforce and implement proper complaince of campaign finance laws:

  • Anti-Money Laundering Council
  • Bureau of Internal Revenue
  • Office of the Ombudsman
  • National Bureau of Investigation
  • Commission on Audit
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government
  • Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Department of Finance
  • Bureau of Customs
  • Department of Transportation and Communications
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Budget and Management
  • Department of Public Works and Highways

Based on the Comelec resolution, the reports of contribution for national candidates should be filed with the CFU. Reports concerning local candidates, on the other hand, should be filed with regional and provincial election offices, which will then transmit the reports to the CFU in Manila 15 days after the filing deadline –

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