Comelec to run after illegal campaign donors-A A +A
Saturday, October 5, 2013
ASIDE from campaign overspending, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is now training its eyes on running after contributors in the May 13 polls despite being prohibited by the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).
Comelec Campaign Finance Unit head Commissioner Christian Lim said they are looking at the possibility of filing election offense cases against company officials that have been found to have contributed to campaign kitties of candidates but are banned by law.
"They are liable for election offense. 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," said Lim.
He noted how Article XI, Section 95 considers prohibited contributions those that come from public or private financial institutions; from firms operating a public utility or in possession of or exploiting any natural resources of the nation; from companies that hold contracts or sub-contracts to supply the government with goods or services or to perform construction or other works; and from companies that have been granted franchises, incentives, exemptions, allocations or similar privileges or concessions by the government.
"It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit or receive any contribution from any of the persons or entities enumerated," said the law.
Violation of the said prohibition may constitute an election offense, which carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification from holding public office.
Lim's statement comes after the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) disclosed that among the biggest donors in the May 2013 senatorial elections are personalities from the mining sector, as well as public works contractors, which have major pending government contracts.
Also found to be largely contributing in the last midterm elections are big businessmen with interests in public utilities, transportation, ports and shipping, energy, as well as the legalized gambling industry.
According to the poll official, the Comelec can run after officials of the company even though their names are not listed in the Statements of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCEs) of candidates.
"For example, in a mining company, most probably, it was approved by the board… so we can hold the responsible officers (liable)," said Lim.
He, however, admitted that it would be difficult to prove such offenses since many contributions of the similar nature are often being concealed.
"For example, the company president’s name was in the SOCE as one of the contributors, he may say he donated on a personal capacity but actually used the firm’s funds. These things are tricky. They deliberately skirt the prohibition,” said Lim. (HDT/Sunnex)