Gastos sa Kampanya: Noon
Napakalaki ng pangangailangan natin sa reporma sa gastusin sa eleksiyon o ang tinatawag na campaign finance reform.
Noong katatatag pa lamang ng Senado pagkatapos ng EDSA 1 kung saan kumandidato ako sa unang pagkakataon, wala halos kaming gastos. Una, bawal ang radio at TV ads. Noong tumakbo ako sa pangalawang termino noong 1992, bawal pa rin ang radio at TV ads. Noong wala na ako sa Senado, hiniling ng KBP na payagan ang paggamit ng TV at radio ads ng mga nangangampanya sa pambansang eleksiyon.
Ilang pag-aaral ang nagpapatunay na ang ginagastos ng mga kandidato sa TV ads ay halos naaayon sa ranking nila sa resulta ng eleksiyon. Napakalaking bagay niyan.
When I ran for office the last time, I knew I could not come up with the amount that would be needed for placing ads in the primetime spot. A 30-seconder ad already cost P300,000 in 2001.
Ngayong 2013, ang isang 30-seconder spot ay maaaring umabot ng P600,000. Imagine how much money you should have to be able to market yourself. Kaya ang nakakalamang diyan ay mga kandidatong may dating pangalan na, o kasama sa dinastiya, nasa pinilakang tabing, at nasa telebisyon araw-araw o linggu-linggo. Minimal lamang ang kailangan nilang adbertisment.
This is a very big problem because it means the “serious money” a candidate needs would only come from those who have vested interests in public policy.
Una, nakalalamang na ang nasa dinastiya at ang mga nakapwesto na—they have access to government resources. Ikalawa, kailangan ng napakalaking pera. Ikatlo, ang mga taong may tinatawag na “vested interest” sa polisiyang pampubliko ang magbibigay ng perang pangampanya. Ang resulta, hindi ka pa nahahalal, alam mo na ang boto mo. May pakinabang ang nagpopondo, namuhunan sila dyan. The regulatory powers of government have already been compromised.
People should realize that these things are a serious threat to the integrity of our democratic processes like elections. Pero hindi agad nakikita yan. We need to demand full transparency as to who are funding the candidates. We have a situation in which the public policy and regulatory powers of government are already compromised as early as the election campaign.
Sa sitwasyon ngayon, hindi na makakapangampanya ang mga taong hindi kilala, o hindi nanggaling sa pamilya ng mga pulitiko, at mga walang pera pero kuwalipikado.
It was almost a fluke when we first ran and won in 1986 under the Corazon “Cory” Aquino ticket. Twenty-two out of 24 won. Halos walang gastos yun. It was just the Cory magic that helped us. Of course, we had individual levels of popularity and exposure in terms of the mass media. There were also those who had been senators already.
But the ball game has changed now. That is a serious issue that should be addressed. Campaign finance is not even talked about. You cannot talk about dynasties without linking it with the issue of campaign finance.
What are the solutions to this problem? If you want a democracy that is functional, we must be able to give a chance for the marginalized to be represented.
First, reform our party system so that there will be transparency as to where campaign finance comes from. Study how other countries conduct their national elections, how federal funding is provided for those who are running, although this requires the institutionalization of the political party system. The mechanism for federal or national funding is the political party.
Second, there should be real transparency. We should know who are funding the candidates. A lot of donors contribute funds but don’t want to be identified. We should have a law that requires all donations beyond a certain amount to be declared. Lalong dapat nating alamin ang pinagmulan ng malalaking donasyon, nang sa gayon, kung may hidwaan o conflict sa panukala o polisiya, alam natin ang pinanggagalingan. There are many interest groups, power brokers, loggers, pharmaceutical or tobacco industries lobbyists. Lahat nang ito ay dapat malaman ng tao.
Elections are a condition sine qua non for a democracy. The elite and those with vested interests should not control and dominate the process. It is very difficult to pass a law if the legislators are under their control. Public pressure has to be mounted to force our legislators to reveal who fund their campaigns.
In my years in the Senate, the committee report on an anti-dynasty bill was something I fought for in my two six-year terms. I called for discussions on this issue but was always stymied by colleagues in the Senate and the House. It was similar to the total log ban I fought for. We won some and lost some. We succeeded in passing the generics act in spite of the opposition of the drug companies and the Philippine Medical Association.
You win some and lose some. The reality is that it is almost impossible to get to the Senate if you are poor. The odds are stacked against those who don’t have the money even if you have the best intentions, skills, talent, or fervor.
Much has been said about our lack of real political parties. Everybody gravitates to who’s in power and then they shift loyalties. We have not institutionalized our political parties. What we have now are mere factions of the same. They don’t fulfill the basic requirements of a political party, the ideology, membership, discipline…it’s only a mechanism that comes alive only during elections.
In analyzing campaign finance reform, we should have a holistic view of the issue. How do you make elections less expensive? How do you democratize the process? How do you provide access to those who don’t belong to political dynasties or those who don’t have the funds? These are interlinked.