How candidates make BIG money out of campaign donations – PCIJ

You want to make big money just going around the country promoting yourself? Then run for public office in the next presidential race. In fact, some reports have it that it may have become a short-stint but very lucrative “business” for some so-called electoral candidates.

It’s possible that these candidates ostensibly run for a government position but are actually interested in the huge profits they’d get from the leftover campaign funds from donations.


The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) came out with the Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) of candidates and political parties filed with the Commission on Elections or COMELEC after the recent presidential elections in May this year. It showed how some candidates had huge sums of excess funds after the elections which remained unaccounted for and with “unpaid obligations.”

Take senatorial hopeful, Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, for instance. Though unsuccessful in the May elections, he nonetheless had P50.8 million in excess money left in his campaign fund, as reflected in his campaign-finance report submitted to the COMELEC.

Asked by the PCIJ what he did with the excess money, Domagoso merely sent them copies of his income tax quarterly payments plus a manager’s check showing his payment of P9.7 million in taxes for his income of P50.55 million.

In short, Isko Moreno easily made P40.9 million (after taxes) from his leftover multi-million campaign funds he got from donors when he ran for the Senate. He got three times more money than the P12.9 million he declared in 2014. With easy profits like that, who needs a seat in the Senate?


Wait, There’s More!

But Isko Moreno’s story is not an isolated case. There are lots more others. Some observers say it’s close to becoming a trend—it seems they run for office, not for the office itself but for the excess funds after.

PCIJ reviewed the SOCE made by both candidates and political parties in the May elections and found that there was a total of P69.33 million leftover campaign funds from four electoral parties and 13 candidates.

The list includes:

  • Presidential candidates Rodrigo R. Duterte, Jejomar C. Binay, and Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares.
  • Vice presidential candidates Ma. Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo and her rival Francis Joseph “Chiz’ Escudero.
  • Senatorial candidates Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Theresia Hontiveros, Sherwin Gatchalian, Panfilo M. Lacson, Eduardo Luis Manzano, Walden Bello, and of course Isko Moreno.
  • Political parties like Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN), People’s Reform Party, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), and Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas CMD).

Observers note how pocketing leftover campaign funds from donations is illegal in the United States. But that is the US. In the Philippines, election laws and jurisprudence say nothing about how such funds should be handled, enabling candidates to simply keep them as “income” for personal use and not break any law—as long as they pay taxes derived from them.

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