I was surprised to readÂ the list of those prohibited from giving political contributions, as mandated in the law.
These rules are observed more in the breach than in their compliance.
The reason for having rulesÂ governing the giving of political contributions, is to level the playing field, so to speak.
Aside from ensuring a level playing field, the State needs to enact other regulatory measures to prevent conflicts of interest between future public officials and some of societyâ€™s major stakeholders.
One particular measure is the prohibition against soliciting or receiving political donations or contributions from certain kinds of persons or companies.
Who are prohibited from giving contribution for any patrician political activity, whether directly or indirectly?
We must put emphasis on the word â€œindirectlyâ€.
What you cannot do directly, cannot be done indirectly, says a basic legal principle.
Those prohibited from making contributions for partisan political activities are:
Public or private financial institutions, except granting of loans in the ordinary course of business.
A public financial institution would refer, for instance to the GSIS Pagcor or Â PCSO.
A private financial institution would refer, for instance to a private bank, lending company
Are we sure banks donâ€™t make political contributions, directly or indirectly?
Also prohibited from making political contributions are persons operating a public utility or in possession of or exploiting any natural resources of the nation.
A public utility would mean a power distribution company, or bus transport companies, as an example.
A mining company would be one exploiting the natural resources of our nation.
Do you think these public utilities donâ€™t contribute to campaigns?
Also prohibited from making political contributions are persons who hold contracts or sub-contracts to supply the government with goods or services, or to perform construction or other works.
We imagine contractors are being referred to onÂ this prohibition.
But arenâ€™t contractors the prime source of campaign funds?
Also prohibited from making contributions are persons who have been granted franchises, incentives, exemptions, allocations or similar privileges or concessions by the government.
An example of grantees of franchises would be telecommunications companies, airline companies.
An example of persons granted incentives or exemptions (from taxes) are those operating in export processing zones.
Do we take it to mean Â these companies donâ€™t make political contributions?
Foreigners, foreign corporations, foreignÂ governments are also prohibited from making political contributions.
Political contributions by foreign governments constitute interference in national affairs.
Will China stand idle and shy away from making political contributions or interventions in the coming elections, in the wake of the intense territorial disputes in the Spratleys?
But if a foreign government interferes and contributes to a presidential candidate who would cater to the interests of that foreign government, how can the Comelec, or the Philippine government Â for that matter, sanction that foreign government?
It feels funny reading the law prohibiting political contributions.
I donâ€™t know which one is being followed. (By Atty. Jay Dejaresco)