P1-M bond: Counting Comelec's 'earnings'

MANILA, Philippines – The poll body could have earned millions in the past two senatorial elections—and earn some more in the 2013 exercise—if the recent proposal of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr to impose a bond on aspirants was already in place.

By Rappler’s estimates, the proposed requirement could have resulted in the collection of P59 million in 2010 and P25 million in 2007 for the Comelec. It can earn the poll body P15 million by next year.

In a chance interview with reporters on Saturday, October 13, Brillantes floated the idea of requiring every aspirant who files a certificate of candidacy for senator to post a P1-million bond. This would discourage nuisance candidates from crowding the accreditation process that the Comelec has to conduct within a limited period of time.

And once qualified candidates are determined, the bond would be forfeited if they fail to garner a minimum number of votes, which the poll chief didn’t specify.

Brillantes made the proposal after the poll body declared as qualified only 27 of the total 84 senatorial aspirants for May 2013 polls. The Comelec has called for hearings where the 59 others will be asked "to justify the legitimacy of their candidacies."

Every election, at least 80 aspirants file their COCs for senator, a number of them habitual nuisance candidates. The Comelec normally gives itself a month to weed out the list.

In 2010, it allowed only 61 COC filers to run for senator. In 2007, the year when now President Benigno Aquino III won as senator, it declared only 37 official candidates.

Assuming that each of these candidates had to post P1 million then, and only 12 winners were declared every senatorial election, the Comelec would have forfeited the bonds of the losing candidates—or a total of P59 million in 2010 and P25 million in 2007.

If the Comelec will no longer add to the list of 27 whom it has allowed to run in 2013, then it would easily mean P15 million in forfeited bonds.

Rappler earlier surveyed the qualifications of the current batch of senatorial aspirants, and concluded that only 35 of them can see their campaigns through the end, given the enormous logistical requirements of the exercise.

Malacañang said they will look into Brillantes’s proposal to make sure it does not conflict with the law, said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview on Sunday, October 14.

“There may be legal ramifications to that. I will seek guidance from the legal team in the Palace and also from the DOJ (Department of Justice), bBecause I think there is a provision in the Constitution, which states we should not require aspirants to shell out money just to run for any public office. So we’ll have to study that further,” she said. – Rappler .com