'Contractors, execs liable for election offenses'
Posted at 10/05/2013 1:56 AM | Updated as of 10/05/2013 1:56 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Government contractors and executives of mining and public utility firms that topped the lists of campaign donors in the May 13 polls are liable for election offenses.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said the Omnibus Election Code bans these people from donating to political campaigns.
“The (Comelec) Law Department will have to conduct a preliminary investigation... and if there is a probable cause, the case will be filed in court,” he said.
Speaking to reporters at a briefing that the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) had organized, Lim said that it could be advantageous to have backers in government if these people are applying for concessions.
“The danger here is always that the high rollers, almost 50 percent (of the contributors), then most likely these are the people who will dictate what national policy is,” he said.
It is alarming that these executives have invested in candidates for public office, he added.
Lim said candidates who had received illegal campaign donations also face election offense charges.
It is punishable with perpetual disqualification from public office, suspension of the rights to vote and six years imprisonment, he added.
The law prohibits contributions, directly or indirectly, from people operating a public utility or exploiting the country’s natural resources.
People holding contracts or sub-contracts to supply the government with goods or services or to perform construction or other works are also banned from making campaign donations.
Based on PCIJ’s “Money Politics and the May 2013 Elections” report, government contractors were the top donors in the last polls.
They made at least P75 million in donations to both the administration and opposition senatorial candidates.
“The apparent violations on prohibited campaign donors cut across all party lines and affiliations, with candidates, parties, and political alliances from both the administration and the opposition blocks accepting donations from personalities identified with sectors that are listed by the Election Code as banned donors,” read the report.
A partner of the Comelec in reviewing campaign finances, the PCIJ made the report based on the Statement Contributions and Expenditures of the candidates in the 2013 polls.
The report said that some P70 million in mining-associated donations were made to senatorial candidates.
Officers and owners of public transportation facilities like airlines and bus companies donated P62.5 millions.
These candidates are classified in the report as “high rollers” for donating more than P5 million each.
Overall, they comprised half of the donors.
PCIJ executive director Malou Mangahas said they observed that the “big shots” among the donors in the 2010 presidential polls were missing in the May elections.