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House leader wants periodic adjustment to make election spending limits ‘reasonable, realistic’

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Pablo John Garcia have filed a bill making election expense limitations “more reasonable and realistic” by periodically adjusting them for inflation.

He cited the need for Congress to amend the Republic Act No. 7166, which was enacted in 1991, to adjust the election spending limits for inflation.

“The spending limits under the Omnibus Election Code, which became law in 1985, were last updated in 1991 by Republic Act No. 7166. Since then, the prices of goods and services have risen to a level as to have rendered the spending limits unrealistic, even obsolete,” he said.

RA 7166, which was enacted in 1991, amended the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code and increase the allowed expenditures for candidates and political parties.

Under the law, candidates are allowed to spend P3 for every voter and candidates without any political party and without support from any political party are allowed to spend P5 for every voter.

Candidates for President and Vice President are allowed a larger sum of P10 and political parties, P5.

“Ideally, election spending limits should be reassessed and adjusted every election cycle to make them reasonable and realistic. The challenge to a periodic adjustment, however, has been the necessity to pass a law to amend the current law,” Garcia pointed out.

Under House Bill 3090 or the proposed Realistic Election Spending Limits Act, Garcia proposed that any amount provided by law as the maximum allowable election expenses of any candidate or political party, or maximum allowable contributions of any contributor, shall be periodically adjusted for inflation based on the prices during the year in which the said law  became effective.

“This bill seeks to address that problem, first, by adjusting any spending limit adjustable for inflation based on prices during the year in which the limit was set by law. This not only would make these limits more realistic, but, more importantly, would forestall the need to pass a law for every adjustment,” he said.

The bill mandates the Commission on Elections (Comelec), in coordination with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), to issue the rules and regulations necessary to implement the proposed Act. The Comelec shall promulgate the maximum election expenses for every election not less than three months from the start of the campaign period, it said.

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