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Senate panel approves bill increasing spending limit for candidates, parties

The Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation has approved a bill seeking to increase the spending limit for candidates and political parties.

Committee Report 497 recommends the plenary approval of Senate Bill 2072 to encourage transparency in reporting campaign expenses.

However, committee chairman Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said that despite the increase in the cap in campaign expenditures, the amount to be spent “per voter” by candidates and political parties will have to remain conservative.

He said this is to discourage overspending and to ensure that all those participating in the poll exercise will be competing on equal footing with other candidates.

Under the bill, independent senatorial, party-list, and other candidates or those without support from any political party may spend P8 per voter from the present P5.

Candidates who are running under a political party or being endorsed by political parties may spend P6 per voter.

For political parties, for every voter currently registered in the constituency or constituencies where it has official candidates the existing cap of P5 will be increased to P8.

The aggregate amount that a candidate for president and vice president may spend remains at P10 for every voter.

Pimentel, president of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said the existing rates are no longer realistic.

“For 25 years, the amounts limiting the expenses of candidates and political parties remained the same. Consequently, candidates had difficulty in trying to limit their spending in accordance with law because prices of materials and their printing and reproduction, mass media advertisements (which are now allowed), transportation and other operational expenses have noticeably increased in the past two decades,” he said.

He said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has filed cases of overspending before the courts against 35 local candidates for the 2010 and 2013 elections.

“The best way to address the concern of our candidates, especially the local candidates, therefore, is to increase the amount of their allowable political campaign expenditure,” the senator said.

The bill will now be scheduled for plenary deliberations. — BM, GMA News