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Comelec to strengthen implementation of campaign finance rules

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.29
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The Comelec is planning to tap the help of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Commission on Audit (COA), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and even citizens' arms to assist it in monitoring campaign spending in connection with the 2013 election. In a forum on campaign finance held on December 19, Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said that they will also train their local election officers ahead of May 2013 in data gathering and enforcement of campaign finance rules. He also said that Comelec's undermanned Law Department will serve as the campaign finance unit of the Comelec for the elections, but in the long term, a separate unit will be created to handle the said function. Activities would include monitoring of campaign advertisements and scrutiny of the candidates' Statement of Contributions and Expenses (SOCE).

Lim said the mid-term election is an experimental stage to enforce campaign finance regulations in preparation for the presidential election in 2016. He said more money for campaign finances will pour in for the presidential elections, making 2013 an opportunity to pinpoint legal loopholes and plugging the loopholes. Tax records may also be used in pinpointing campaign financing. The Comelec commissioner said the poll body is also looking at making sure public money is not spent on campaigning, which Lim said is the worst form of campaign financing.

Also according to Lim, the Comelec is looking at tightening the rules on allowable airtime for political advertisements during the campaign. He said that he has already filed a draft resolution clearly stating 120 minutes and 180 minutes airtime for television and radio as the total allowed airtime for a candidate during the campaign period. He said however that the Comelec has no control over product endorsements and commercials before the start of the campaign period, but they will be counted against the allowable limit if still broadcast during the campaign. A candidate who violates the allowed time limit could face possible disqualification under the Fair Elections Act, Lim said.

(Sources: ABS-CBN; PDI)
 
 
 
 
 
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