Lapid files Bill raising campaign expenses cap

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To reflect the effects of inflation on the costs associated with electoral campaigns, Sen. Lito Lapid has filed a bill increasing the authorized campaign expenses of candidates in national and local elections.

In his explanatdory note, Lapid said  Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2460 also empower the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to periodically updates these limits in response to changing economic conditions.

SBN 2460 will amend Republic Act No. 7166, otherwise known as the “Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral Reforms Act of 1991,” which currently governs the allowable campaign expenses for candidates participating in Philippine elections.

“Mahigit tatlong dekada na po mula nang isabatas ang RA 7166, at ang tatlong piso hanggang sampung pisong limit na campaign expenses kada botante ay wala na pong halaga ngayon (It’s been more than three decades since RA 7166 was enacted, and the three pesos to ten pesos campaign expenses limit per voter is worthless now,” Lapid said.

Over the years, the purchasing power of the Philippine peso has diminished, leading to an increase in the cost of various campaign-related activities, including advertising, transportation, and campaign materials.

“Sa pamamagitan po ng pag-a-update ng mga gastusin sa kampanya, layunin nating gawing mas makatotohanan ang badyet sa kampanya at sumasalamin sa umiiral na presyo ng mga produkto at serbisyo (By updating these allowable expenses, we aim to make the campaign budget more realistic and reflective of the prevailing prices of goods and services),” he said.

This proposal has long been overdue, having been filed since the 16th Congress. Had this been passed during the previous Congresses, cadidates in the coming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) this coming October 30 would benefit from it.

Lapid stressed that outdated allowable campaign expenses may inadvertently encourage candidates and political parties to underreport their actual campaign expenditures. This can undermine the transparency and accountability of the electoral process.

By adjusting the allowable expenses to align with current economic realities, we intend to minimize, if not eliminate, any motivation to falsify campaign expenditure reports, he said.

Under SBN 2460, the candidates’ campaign expense limits would be P50 for president, P40 for vice president and P30 for senator, district representative, governor, vice governor, board member, mayor, vice mayor, councilor, and party-list representative for every voter registered in the constituency where the candidate filed his certificate of candidacy.

The proposed amendment does not change the limit for independent candidates, which is P5 for every voter.

For political parties, the expense ceiling would go up from P5 to P30 for every voter in the constituency where they have official candidates.

The bill authorizes the Comelec, in consultation with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the National Economic and Development Authority and the Philippine Statistics Authority, to adjust the campaign expense limits per registered voter based on the inflation rate and consumer price index.

The Comelec is also mandated to issue implementing rules and regulations.

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