Oct 122012

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved a bill granting state subsidy to national political parties and setting limits on voluntary contributions that they may receive from donors.

Voting 168 for and zero against, members of the Lower Chamber passed on third and final reading House Bill 6551, the Political Party Development Act of 2012, on Monday.

Cavite 4th District Representative Elpidio F. Barzaga Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, said HB 6551 seeks to institutionalize and strengthen political parties in the country by introducing reforms in campaign financing.

Barzaga co-authored the bill with Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (PMP, Cagayan de Oro City); Juan Edgardo Angara (LDP, Quezon); and Raymond Democrito Mendoza (TUCP Party-list).

He said the bill will provide an effective and transparent mechanism to level the playing field among candidates and political parties participating in national and local elections.

The bill was approved in the past by the Lower House when it was first introduced by former Speaker Jose de Venecia.

Authors of the measure agree that the bill will effectively reduce opportunities for graft and corruption.

Under the bill, voluntary campaign contributions for political parties will be limited to P1 million from any donating “natural person” and up to P10 million if given by “juridical persons.”

Donation to political parties will be exempted from donor’s tax.

Angara, whose father is also pushing for a similar bill in the Senate, said HB 6551 also grants state subsidy for accredited national political parties which shall be used “directly and exclusively for party development and campaign expenditures.”

Funding subsidy will be based on political representation; organization’s strength and mobilization capability; and performance and track record of the party.

Total amount of state subsidy will be distributed as follows: Five percent for monitoring purposes and conduct of information dissemination and voter’s education; 30 percent for proportionate distribution to accredited political parties represented in the Senate and based on the number of seats obtained in most recent elections; and 65 percent for political parties in the House of Representatives based on the number of seats obtained during the last general elections.

All financial assistance from government will be subjected to audit and accounting examination by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Upon enactment of the bill, government will appropriate P500 million in initial funding and P350 million in each of the following years.

Rodriguez said acts prohibited under the bill are misuse of funds received by political parties; giving voluntary contributions beyond the allowable limits set by law; inability to account for all incoming contributions from whatever source; failure to submit pre-election adn post election disclosures by political parties and false reporting.

Penalties for violation of the provisions of the measure range from a fine of P100,000 to P500,000 and imprisonment of not less than six years but not more than 12 years.

Administrative sanctions to be determined by the Commission on Elections will be imposed on political parties that fail to comply with documentary requirements provided by the measure.

Source: By BEN R. ROSARIO. October 11, 2012, 8:24pm. www.mb.com.ph