DISCLOSING NAMES OF POLITICAL DONORS IS DEMOCRATIC

By | May 15, 2017

CHICAGO (JGL) – Vice President Leni Robredo grudgingly paid 8-million pesos (US$160,000) for her elections counter-protest while her losing vice presidential rival former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. gingerly parted with his 36-million pesos (US$720,000) for his elections protest.

Either way, you look at it, there is something wrong – very wrong– with the Philippine political system that needs a major overhaul.

If Leni wins, the Philippines can have a matriarchal form of government. If Bongbong wins, the Philippines can have a patriarchal form of government. This means we will step back to pre-Hispanic period, when the Philippines was ruled by tribal chiefs.

If the Philippine Congress is really bent on changing the electoral processes in the Philippines for the better, it needs to amend the Philippines Omnibus Elections Code so that if there are contributors to a political party for a certain threshold amount, the donors’ names, addresses and occupations and, if they are Philippine corporations, the names and addresses of the corporations, should be publicly be made available online so voters will be empowered to know who are donors, who had hugely invested millions on certain candidates.

In the United Stares, the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 requires campaigns and political committees to report the names, addresses, and occupations of donors of more than $200.

In her declaration, Vice President Robredo says she sourced her P8-M from her relatives. If Philippine Congress has passed a law that requires the names, addresses and occupations of campaign contributors, Filipinos would easily come to know the names, addresses and occupations of the relatives who contributed P8-M to Ms. Robredo for her counter protest.

MONEY LAUNDERING

How do we know if Ms. Robredo or Bongbong Marcos merely used the names of their relatives as contributors when the actual contributors are those, who are merely laundering money to conceal their nefarious activities?

In the U.S., which allows individual and corporate contributors to political parties, it enlisted the U.S. Internal Revenue Services’ under the Internal Revenue Code (IRS) Code  in 1974 in establishing the matching fund program for Presidential primary campaigns if voters check off $3 contribution to a Presidential candidate when voters file their federal income tax. Then, the U.S. Treasury will distribute the checkoff monetary contribution to the political parties, where the Presidential candidate belongs, not to the Presidential candidate.

This means that the IRS can tell if contributors have capacities to make huge contributions based on their previous tax records.

In other words, if there is an elections reform in place in the Philippines, Philippine Congress should provide that certain huge contributors for certain amount of say, more than P1-M (US$20,000), should issue a waiver allowing the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to peer into their bank records if contributors are really sourcing their donations from legitimate sources.

Also before reaching out to contributors, a candidate should have spending limit. In the U.S., candidates may spend up to $50,000 (P2.5-M) from their own personal funds. Such spending does not count against the expenditure limit.

So, if the Philippines requires full disclosures of contributors, voters can easily tell, who are the relatives of Vice President Leni and former Senator Marcos, who bankrolled their P8-M elections counter-protest and P36-M protests fees, respectively.

In her SALN (please see attached), Ms. Robredo submitted before the 2016 elections, she declared a cash assets of P10,273,803 (US$205,476) acquired from “different years,” so, she should not have a problem raising P8-M down payment in her counter-protest.

With her declaration in her SOCE (statement of contributions and expenditures) (Please see attached) that she did not spend from her personal fund, if she has not done so, the Vice President does not need to return the P8,400,000 she owes her relatives, so she can pay off the rest of another P8-M balance in her counter-protest.

 

OMITTED IN HER SALN

 

its interest as travel expenses for her family (Please news story. (http://bit.ly/2q5XnSC). Nor did she disclose the P500,000 ($US11,111) her family received for the “accidental loss” that the Malayan Insurance (Please see attached) paid her family for the

In her liabilities in her SALN, Mrs. Robredo declared that she obtained a loan of P1,000,000 from the Estate of Marcelina Robredo (her mother-in-law); P2,000,000 from the Estate of Jose Robredo (her father-in-law); P1,650,000 from her brother-in-law Jose Robredo, Jr.; P2,500,000 from her sister-in-law, Dr. Jocelyn Austria; and P1,250,000 from her mother, Salvacion Gerona, for a grand total of P8,400,000 (US$ 186,666).

If we assume that this same set of relatives were her legitimate sources of her P8-M counter-protest fee, then, she will only beholden to these relatives for installing her as Vice President and matriarch-in-waiting.

But if she can publicly identify the individual and corporate contributors of more than P1-M (US$20,000), it should expand her base of supporters outside her family members and it should give voters an idea, who are the rest of her financial supporters, who bankrolled her campaign.

In her SOCE, she declared that she received a total of P423,163,737.34 (US$ 9,403,638), of which over P406 million (US$ 9,022,222) was cash received from various sources; more than P192,000 (US$ 4,267) in kind from various sources, and P16 million (US$ 355,555) in kind from the Liberal Party.

In the U.S., campaign contributions never end up in the pocket of politicians. They end up in the political parties of the politicians, who used the funds raised in “winding down” expenses for campaign such paying advertising, campaign staff, campaign travel, fundraising and other campaign expenses, like legal expenses such as protest fees. They may not use the federal money for personal expenses or for any purpose not related to the campaign.

 

“WINDING DOWN” EXPENSES

 

If there is a law in place in the Philippines for “winding down” expenses, either Vice President Robredo or former Sen. Marcos would not be struggling to pay for their election counter-protest and protest campaign fees, respectively. They will not be beholden to their relatives either because they can draw money from the surplus campaign contributions that end up in the coffers of their political parties, not in the candidates’ pockets.

But if someone would take Ms. Robredo to task to identify each big donors’ names, addresses and occupations and names and addresses of corporations, he might as well demand from Senator Marcos, President Duterte, Sec. Mar Roxas, former Vice President Binay and other presidential and vice presidential candidates, etc. similar information.

Otherwise, Congress should pass a law that would make disclosure of personal information of campaign contributors or names and addresses of corporate donors automatic. (Contact columnist: jglariosa@hotmail.com)

 

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