Campaign Finance and the May 2016 Elections in the Philippines (A five-part series)

Campaign Finance and the May 2016 Elections in the Philippines (A five-part series)

Organisation: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (Philippines)

Publication Date: 04/06/2017

Description

Money in politics and elections, and how candidates in the Philippines resist or relent to its seduction, offers us a preview of how those who seek to lead and rule may likely turn honest or dishonest once in office. Money in politics and elections, in truth, presents a first, true test of the integrity, probity, and character -- or lack thereof -- of aspiring and returning public officials. Our five-part series inquired into the veracity of details, the degree of compliance with or defiance of election laws, and the apparent and real conflicts of interest that mark the donations received by the candidates for president, vice president, and senator in the May 2016 Philippine elections. This is the third elections in the country that PCIJ has scrutinized with avid devotion to campaign finance, in our belief that our nation's epic quest for transparent, accountable, and honest government should start with open, transparent, accountable, and inclusive elections. The first part of our report yields these, among others findings: • Only 13 wealthy donors of Rodrigo R. Duterte who each gave him P5 million or more powered his presidential bid. Altogether, these donors raised P334.8 million or about 90 percent of Duterte's P375 million total campaign kitty. In contrast, small donations or those P10,000 and below amount to just P175,313 -- less than half of one percent or merely 0.046 percent of Duterte’s total campaign fund. • Out of the 56 million total registered voters in the last elections, the total number of donors to the five candidates for president came up to only 830 Filipinos. Too, 80 percent of the total amount raised for the presidential race came from Metro Manila, making the National Capital Region the fundraising heart of the polls. • A bevy of donors who are prohibited by election law from donating have largely bankrolled the campaign of national candidates. The succeeding parts of our report feature the following findings: • Three candidates for president, two for vice president, and seven senators, and four political parties altogether realized P69 million in excess donations. Except for one candidate for senator who paid taxes due on his excess contributions, the rest have yet to either pay the appropriate taxes, or have supposedly opted to donate the amount to charity. • At least 32 national candidates reported spending a combined total of P346 million out of their own pockets, in their election campaign. PCIJ's review of their past and latest SALNs shows that some of these candidates have net worth values that are too small, or liquidity too negligible, casting serious doubt on their claim that they spent their own money in the last elections. • At most 24 fundraisers of candidate Jejomar Binay raised 80 percent or P382.8 million of his P463.4-million campaign fund, except that the money did not come from their own pockets. Binay’s fundraisers have kept the identities of his actual donors secret, however.

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