Did Duterte overspend in 2016?

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    THE poll watchdog group Kontra Daya yesterday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct another review of the statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) of President Duterte, saying there is a possibility he overspent in the 2016 presidential race based on information revealed during a recent Senate hearing.

    “Based on the SOCE submitted to the Comelec, the Duterte camp reportedly declared about P110 million in total campaign ad spending. Comparing this information to the one provided by ABS-CBN, Duterte is likely to have overspent,” Danilo Arao, the group’s convenor, said in a statement.

    Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President did not overspend and he is open to any investigation.

    Arao said the information coming from the Senate inquiry last week showed that the Duterte camp bought from ABS-CBN a total of P182 million in commercial spots, which is split into P117 million for national ads, all of which were aired, and P65 million in local ads, with about P7 million unaired.

    He said this means that the Duterte camp spent roughly P175 million for its campaign ads aired at ABS-CBN alone.

    “That the Duterte camp declared a total presidential election campaign spending of P371 million makes the information shared by ABS-CBN more shocking,” said Arao.

    “Does this mean that Duterte and his supporters four years ago had so much faith in ABS-CBN that it supposedly decided to pay the latter about 47.2 percent of its total election budget?” he said.

    Based on Duterte’s SOCE, he spent P371.46 million in campaigning for the May 2016 elections.

    Under the law, candidates for President are allowed to spend only P10 for every voter currently registered. There were some 54.4 million registered voters in the May 2016 polls.

    Campaign overspending is considered an election offense which carries the penalty of one to six years imprisonment, disqualification from public office, and removal of the right of suffrage. – With Jocelyn Montemayor