PCIJ, Pera at Pulitika launch
2 books on money politics

The Comelec commissioners with PAP stakeholders

The Comelec commissioners with PAP stakeholders

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), together with its partners in the Pera at Pulitika (PAP) 2010 Consortium, has launched a two-book volume on the campaign spending of candidates for president, how some journalists cut and cornered favors from some candidates, and the receipted and non-receipted media expenses that the candidates incurred in the May 2010 elections.

The first book, Money Politics and the May 2010 Elections, is an anthology of reports that the PCIJ and the Consortium on Electoral Reforms (CER) produced and published in mainstream and online media during the campaign period. It deals directly with campaign finance, or how candidates in the 2010 elections fattened their campaign kitty with money from real and fictional donors and patrons; how they splurged these millions on the air and ground wars for votes; and how they defied, willfully sometimes, spending limits set in law, and reported a heady concoction of truths and half-truths to the Commission on Elections.

The reports, for example, show how many Presidential candidates saturated the airwaves with their campaign ads, beyond lawful airtime and spending limits. When these violations were exposed in the first wave of PCIJ reports at the start of the campaign period, some candidates then began to ride piggyback on the unused airtime of “proxy” or allied candidates. These reports may be viewed in the PCIJ 2010 election website here.

The second book, Cash Overload, Media Overdrive:The Press and the May 2010 Elections is the third installment of the PCIJ’s News for Sale product, detailing how candidates and their proxies tried to manipulate the mass media during the 2010 elections with money and other enticements.

With many candidates spending on mass media like never before, unscrupulous candidates hired mediamen as consultants, part-time public relations agents, or “media shepherds” to “herd” their colleagues to the candidates’ pasture.

The book also discusses the travails of the overworked, underpaid members of the community press, who are among the most vulnerable to these enticements. One of the more interesting portions of the book involves a document from the 2004 elections. The Statement of Electoral Contributions and Expenses (SECE) submitted by then Vice President Noli de Castro to the Comelec for his vice presidential run included expense entries for “media representatives” as well as honoraria for some editors and television news personalities.

PCIJ Exec. Dir. Malou Mangahas discusses the contents of the books

In simple turnover ceremonies at the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo and the six other commissioners received the first copies of the books from the PAP 2010 representatives — PCIJ Executive Director Malou Mangahas, Mon Casiple, CER executive director, Eli Ricote, president of the Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines (ASPAP) that counts 120 colleges as members; and Atty. Luie Tito F. Guia of the Lawyers’ League for Liberty (Libertas)

Mangahas said the Comelec provided invaluable support by giving access to expense reports submitted by political candidates during their campaign, as well as broadcast logs submitted by the television and radio networks.

The publication of the books cap 12 months of working together by the PAP 2010 Consortium, a project that was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

The PAP partners also pushed the idea of creating a campaign finance audit unit within the Comelec, which would focus full-time on campaign finance monitoring and regulation. The Comelec is unable to monitor the campaign spending of candidates because it does not have the personnel dedicated to this role.

Atty Luie Guia of Libertas: Comelec needs a dedicated campaign finance unit

Comelec Chairman Melo announced that the en banc has already approved the proposal in principle, and is now working out the mechanics to get the audit unit up and rolling soon.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo says Comelec may outsource the proposed unit

Melo also expressed his gratitude to the PAP partners for their assistance during the 2010 elections, saying their vigilance forced many candidates to hew more closely to the spending limits allowed by law. On the other hand, much more work has to be done to go after “unreceipted expenses,” or those that are neither allowed in law nor declared by the candidates.

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