ConCom eyes ‘Democracy Fund’ to level political playing field

MANILA To empower smaller, lesserknown political parties in the political race, the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution wants to create a Democracy Fund to serve as a depository of campaign contributions to level the political playing field.

ConCom Senior Technical Assistant and spokesperson Ding Generoso said this proposal will fall under the draft Federal Constitution's proposed new section under the new article on Suffrage, Political Rights and Political Parties (Article V).

This provision, formulated by ConCom member Prof. Julio Teehankee, has been approved in the ConCom subcommittee on Political Reforms and Leveling the Political Field and will be voted in the final en banc session, he said.

Generoso explained that the Campaign Finance Reform is not only meant to encourage smaller political parties but also regulate political contributions and campaign financing; make campaign funding available to all parties and candidates; and ensure transparency.

Kasi malaki ang imbalance natin. Maraming mga partido, lalo na yung mga maliliit na mga kandidato na hindi sikat pero mas magaling doon sa mga hindi sikat walang tiyansang manalo dahil walang pera, walang pampagawa ng tarpaulin, walang pambayad ng commercial sa radyo (Because we have a huge imbalance. There are many parties, and candidates, who are not famous and as rich but better than those who are famous, who have no chance of winning because they don't have enough funds. They can't afford tarpaulins, they can't afford to pay for radio commercials), Generoso said in a press conference in Pasay City on Thursday.

Kailangan maremedy yung ganyang situation para masabi natin na yung political playing field medyo may laban yung iba doon sa mga may mga pera at political dynasties (We need to remedy that situation so that we can say that we have leveled the political field to give them a fighting chance against richer candidates and those from political dynasties), he added.

According to Generoso, the Democracy Fund will be a statemanaged common fund to be apportioned among political parties and candidates for president. Independent candidates can also tap into the fund.

It will also assure that women candidates also get their fair share to allow more of them to participate in the political affairs of the nation.

The Democracy Fund will be administered by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and audited by the Commission on Audit.

Kita naman natin, pag halalan, yung established political parties sandamakmak ang pera nila at malaki kasi yung connection nila sa mga nagpopondo ng kampaniya lalo sa mga malalaking negosyante (We can see that during elections, established political parties have lots of money because they have connections with those that fund them especially big companies). That's where they get their funding, Generoso said.

Instead of giving directly to the candidate, you give it to a common fund so everyone can benefit. Wala kang pinapanigan na kandidato pero ang gusto mo mangyari dito ay lahat ng kanditato magkaroon ng medyo patas na laban when it comes to funding (You don't side with any candidate but you want a fair chance for all candidates when it comes to funding), he added.

But some may also specify to whom or what party they want their contribution to be given, he added.

Individual citizens can contribute anywhere from PHP10,000 to PHP100,000 and then they will get tax credit from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

On the other hand, for corporations, partnerships, and associations, they may contribute from PHP100,000 to PHP3 million and will also be entitled to tax credit.

Contributions from religious organizations, foreigners, foreign governments, and illegal sources will be prohibited.

Generoso said the ConCom will leave it to the Comelec to develop the Democracy Fund's Implementing Rules and Regulations.

(The ConCom is) still working out the details on apportionment but it will be part of the annotation as a guide to Comelec, he said, noting that only political parties and candidates registered under the Comelec will be allowed to avail of the fund.

Meanwhile, Generoso said the ConCom is still on track to submit its draft Federal Constitution to Duterte on July 9, before he delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.

At present, the draft charter is 95 percent complete. The ConCom is currently finalizing provisions on Federated Regions. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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