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Setting minimum limit on campaign spending puts price tag on candidates –Drilon

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday was dismayed over suggestions of a minimum limit for campaign expenses, saying it was like "putting a price tag" on those who would like to run for public office.

Drilon's reaction came after Senator Imee Marcos suggested that such a provision could be included in Senate Bill 810 which seeks to raise the authorized expenses of candidates and political parties.

"I have very serious reservations to impose a minimum spending whatever it is -- P500 or P500,000-- to impose that minimum, in effect you are putting a price tag on my desire to seek public office. I think it can be questioned," said Drilon during a Senate session.

Marcos, for her part, shared Drilon's views, noting that the amount stated for campaign expenses was the suggestion of the Commission on Elections. The senator added that she wanted to discuss the amendment with her colleagues.

"I agree po. The amendment came from COMELEC and we should discuss it. I don't see the burning need to have such an amendment. As you said it is quite off putting po," Marcos, chair of Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, pointed out.

The bill seeks to amend Section 13 of Republic Act 7166 which covers the aggregate amount that a candidate or registered political party will spend in campaigns.

Under the measure, candidates for President and Vice President will spend P50 pesos for every registered voter.

Meanwhile, political parties will spend a minimum of P30 for each voter.

Marcos said she estimates that the minimum campaign expenses for those running for President and Vice President will be around P3 billion.

'Favorable for moneyed candidates'

Senator Koko Pimentel also pointed out that setting minimum spending limits would favor wealthy candidates.

"That's what I'm worried about. We might have authorized a campaign amount that is unrealistic or too favorable for moneyed candidates," said Pimentel.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, for his part, said the minimum amount set for campaigns was "practically disqualifying the poor candidates."

Marcos, nonetheless, said the concerns will be reviewed to make sure that the measure will not become anti-poor.

"That's what we would like to find, balance truthful reporting of our SOCE (statements of contributions and expenditures) and not coming out with anti-poor legislation," said Marcos. — DVM, GMA News