IF LAWS on campaign finance were enforced to the letter, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, and Sergio Osmeña III, along with Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda R. Marcos and perhaps even Vice President Jejomar Binay should not be occupying their seats right now. That would be because they or the political parties that nominated them have yet to submit to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SECE), as required by law.
A CLEAR, working system – with specific procedures and dedicated staff personnel – triggers quick, correct, and complete action by some government agencies on access to information requests.
But the absence of such a system in most other agencies, as well as the lack of fully defined rules and procedures that all agencies must observe in responding to requests, remain barriers to access.
IT WAS 1992; Fidel V. Ramos had just been voted as president, and Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada as vice president. Presidential bet Miriam Defensor Santiago was crying foul, saying she had been cheated. She would later file an electoral protest, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was apparently more interested in something else: conducting its first ever audit of the campaign contributions and expenses of candidates for president, vice president, and senators for the then recently concluded polls.
The Comelec, then headed by Christian Monsod, seemed serious, and even formed a committee to examine the books of account of candidates, political parties, donors, and media entities. Lawyer Josefina de la Cruz, who became part of that committee, also recalls that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Commission on Audit (COA), and the National Bureau of Investigation served as Comelec’s “counterparts” in the initiative.
As early as 5 a.m., voters began looking for the designated classrooms for the precincts in which they were registered. There were sheets posted at the entrance of the Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City’s second district, the biggest voting center in the city. Then, they had to negotiate through a crowd to look for their sequence number on the voter’s list posted outside the classroom. A member of the Board of Election Inspectors distributes numbers outside to make sure queuing for entrance to the voting room is done orderly. While waiting for their turn, the voters are requested to gather in a holding room adjacent to the voting room for instructions on the voting process.
THERE are still a few more weeks to go before the May polls, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is already busy counting – political ads, that is, not votes.
Election laws put specific caps on campaign expenditures and political ad airtimes, as well as on the size and frequency of printed campaign ads. With political strategists themselves saying that ads account for as much as 70 percent of the campaign expenditure of a candidate running for a national post, the Comelec has been after documents from broadcast and print media outfits that would show just how many – and for how much – ads candidates have been placing with them since the campaign period began on February 9.
Source: Nielsen Media
The official campaign period started only last February 9, but from November 2009 to February 8, 2010, four candidates for vice president — Liberal Party’s Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas III, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino’s Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay, Nacionalista Party’s Loren Legarda, and Bagumbayan Party’s Bayani Fernando — had already incurred a total of P561.5 million in advertising values for television, radio, and print ads.
According to Comelec Resolution No. 8758 or the “Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Practices Act in Relation to the May 10, 2010 Synchronized National and Local Elections, and Subsequent Elections,” all media entities, whether print or broadcast, are required to submit copies of their political advertising contracts within five days after these are signed. If a political ad is donated, a written acceptance by the candidate, political party, or party list group for which the donation is being made should be attached to the advertising contract.
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