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Potential foreign funding for VP’s campaign flagged

An election commissioner has flagged possible campaign donations by foreigners to Filipino candidates in next year’s elections, following the launch of a volunteer-run website that seeks to fund Vice President Leni Robredo’s presidential run.

“Foreigners cannot contribute to any Filipino candidate,” Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said on her Twitter account on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, “non-negotiables” pushed Robredo to join the presidential race in 2022, she said on Thursday, admitting she was first interested in seeking a local position in the May polls before she was forced to change her decision.

“When the unification talks collapsed, in fact, I was even on the verge of (deciding) which of those contenders would make the most sense for me to support,” Robredo told a meeting of the Rotary Club of Manila on Zoom.

“But then because my non-negotiables were still there, at the last minute, I decided to run. And running and having a very difficult fight is not something new to me,” the Vice President said.

Guanzon was reacting to an ABS-CBN News story on the launch of Team Leni Robredo’s (TLR) crowdfunding page, where supporters may conveniently donate P50 up to P20,000 to Robredo’s campaign war chest.

TLR’s crowdfunding page relies on the donor’s good faith about his or her Filipino citizenship, the report said.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said the crowdfunding drive was a “volunteer initiative.”

“The crowdfunding page is a volunteer initiative led by TLR,” Gutierrez said in a text message.

Robredo and Gutierrez posted the website in their respective social media pages to thank the volunteers, but the Vice President is not directly involved in the crowdfunding, the spokesman said.

Comelec’s Campaign Finance Office officer-in-charge Efraim Bag-id also flagged potential “violation” in the crowdfunding drive, which makes identifying the donors nearly impossible.

Bag-id told ABS-CBN News they may release fresh guidelines on crowdfunding, given its novelty.

Under the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), it is “unlawful for any person to solicit or receive any contribution” from foreigners and foreign corporations.

“Aside from being an election offense, the solicitation or receipt of contributions from any of the above-mentioned persons is also a ground for disqualification under Section 68 (d) of the OEC,” Comelec said in a previous advisory.

Under the controversial 2009 decision of the Supreme Court now known as the Penera doctrine, a person who files his candidacy is only considered a “candidate” at the start of the campaign period.

Comelec set the campaign period for candidates for president, vice president, senators, and party-lists from February 8 to May 7, 2022.

After the collapse of unity talks with the other presidential bets – Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and Senator Manny Pacquiao in particular – the Vice President said she has made up her mind not to pursue other discussions and to focus on the “people’s support.”

Robredo previously said one of her “non-negotiables” was the Marcoses and allowing them to return to power.

The Vice President had admitted that one of the factors affecting her decision was Moreno’s reported remark that he admired the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos for being a visionary, even as he was opposed to his wrongdoings.

Moreno later fired back and asked why the country should have to be involved in the fight between the “Marcoses and the Aquinos” and the “children of the Marcoses and the children of yellowtards.”

Robredo, however, said a united opposition is still the “best solution for anti-administration forces to have a fighting chance” next May.

She said despite poor survey results, she is still confident of winning the presidential race.

“I ran for Congress without that much support from the mayors, but I won. The same thing happened, too, when I ran for the vice presidency,” Robredo added.

Last Thursday, Robredo formalized her presidential bid by filing her certificate of candidacy. She said the endorsement of opposition coalition 1Sambayan also persuaded her to run for the presidency.

Topics: foreign funding , Vice President Leni Robredo , Commission on Elections , Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon
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