Lawmaker seeks higher campaign expenses cap amid inflation

Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid is pushing a  measure that would increase the authorized campaign expenses cap during the national and local elections in the country.

Senate Bill 2460, seeks to amend the Republic Act 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.

The RA 7166 allows the spending limit of every candidate for president and vice president at P10 and for other candidates at P3 for every voter for the last three decades.

Lapid said the current spending limit is not applicable in the current economic situation in the country.

Hence, Lapid seeks to empower the Commission on Elections to periodically update these limits, responding to the changing economic conditions.

“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),” he said.

The senator noted that 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 added.

Lapid underscored that the proposal to increase campaign expenses cap “has been long overdue” stressing that the “outdated allowable campaign expenses may inadvertently encourage candidates and political parties to underreport their actual campaign expenditures.”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,” he said.

“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 further pressed on.

Meanwhile, Lapid said his 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,” he said.

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.

Once enacted, the Comelec will also be mandated to issue implementing rules and regulations on the campaign expenses cap.

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