The Commission on Elections said Monday it was helpless in checking the candidates spending for expensive TV and print advertisements that were clearly beyond their means.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said there were rules on how much candidates could spend on their campaigns and where they should receive their funding from, but that rules and regulations about election campaigning, including the rule on spending limits, were outdated and must be updated.
“Unfortunately, we are helpless because the Comelec cannot look into the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth of candidates. It is not our job to check if they live within their means,” Jimenez said in a television interview.
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways on Monday reminded all public works field personnel to avoid taking part in any partisan political activities, after it received complaints that some of its workers were installing the campaign posters of some senatorial bets.
But Public Works Undersecretary Eugenio Pipo denied the report, saying the field workers were not installing campaign materials but removing the political materials for violating campaign rules
Jimenez said the Comelec could not include the expenses of a candidate made before the start of the campaign period, adding the Comelec only starts monitoring TV and radio airtime limits during the campaign period.
“Also, we do not expect that candidates will spend that much. They have donors and sponsors who pay for their campaign,” he said.
The Comelec made the reaction after the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism released a report about senatorial candidates’ spending on political advertisements.
The PCIJ claims that the top spenders have exceeded the net worth that was declared in their SALNs.
Jimenez said the PCIJ report on the spending was “before the campaign period.”
READ: Crackdown vs illegal campaign materials starts
“It is very clear that you can only prohibit at the start of the campaign period. Unless the campaign period starts, everyone gets to do whatever they want,” Jimenez said.
“We can monitor from the start of the campaign period until the campaign period ends. This is considered premature campaign spending and that is the problem with our electoral system.
“We appeal to the candidates themselves: Right now, it’s a question of delicadeza. For Filipino voters, think hard on whom to vote in the May midterm elections,” Jimenez said.
READ: Campaign posters outlawed