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Comelec wants to criminalize failure to submit campaign expenses

To put more teeth to the law, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is asking Congress to criminalize the failure of a candidate to submit a report of his or her campaign contributions and expenditures.
"We're asking Congress to revert back to the old one [penalty] para matakot [ang candidates].  Dapat maging election offense yan kapag di ka nagsubmit ng [report on] contributions and expenditures," Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in an interview aired over radio dzBB on Wednesday.
Republic Act 7166, which was enacted on Nov. 26, 1991, states that every candidate and treasurer of a political party shall be required to file an itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures within 30 days after the day of the election.
It says that "no person elected to any public offices shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement."
It also says that failure to file the statement or report constitutes an administrative offense for which offenders shall be liable to pay a fine ranging from P1,000 to P30,000.00, depending on the poll body.
For the subsequent offense, the administrative fine shall be from P2,000 to P60,000, also depending on the Comelec. The offender shall also be supposedly subject to perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
The Comelec says the statement of contributions and expenditures must indicate the amount of contribution, the date of its receipt, and the full name and address of the person who gave the contribution. It should also state the amount of every expenditure, the date it was incurred, the full name and address of the person who paid for it, and the purpose of the expenditure.
It should likewise indicate if there is an "unpaid obligation" to any person.
But the Comelec had admitted that no candidate has been disqualified for failing to submit an expenditure report, saying most candidates just pay the fine.
Because of this, Brillantes said they would prefer it if failure to submit the report would constitute an election offense, which is punishable with disenfranchisement, disqualification from holding public office, and imprisonment from one to six years.
"Sinusundan pa rin namin [yung batas pero] hindi na rin kalakasan," he said.
Comelec Resolution 8944 mandates candidates for president and vice president with political parties to spend P10 per registered voter while other candidates also with parties, P3 per voter. On the other hand, candidates without the support of political parties may spend P5 for every voter.
Violation of the spending limit is an election offense.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez had said that candidates found to be lying on their statement may be found guilty of perjury. However, he had also admitted that the spending limit is outdated, "forcing" some candidates to lie on their report of expenditures. — RSJ, GMA News
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