Moreno admits to keeping P50 million in excess campaign funds in 2016

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Moreno admits to keeping P50 million in excess campaign funds in 2016
Presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Domagoso delivered a message to the supporters during the visit at Quezon City Memorial circle on October 29, 2021.
Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno admitted to keeping some P50.8 million in leftover campaign funds from his failed Senate run in 2016, asserting that there should be no problem since these were campaign contributions from various donors. 

At the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews aired over GMA News late Saturday evening, the Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer said the excess funds were aboveboard since he paid his taxes per the government's rules. 

According to a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Isko asserted that he paid P9.7 million in taxes for an income worth P50.55 million when asked about the funds. 

"I had to pay taxes since there was leftover from the campaign because that was pooled money from different people. I had to declare. So that's what I did," he said in Filipino. 

Asked where the money is now, Moreno said flatly: "It's with me." It's part of his income now, he admitted.

But are there any potential violations there? "As long as you pay your taxes," he said, asserting that the money was now clean before the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Throughout his campaign thus far, Moreno has proudly branded himself as a middle-class man of the people with his tough-talking street slang.

His wealth, however, has grown exponentially in his 23 years as a public servant. In 2007, his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth or SALN reflected a net worth of some P7.5 million. 

Most recently, he admitted to possessing a net worth upwards of P70 million as of October 2021.

"You really have to hold on to the money if your campaign expenses were really limited and the donations were just too much. So you have to hold on to it and just pay taxes," he reasoned Saturday. 

While other countries like the United States have made it illegal to pocket leftover money from electoral campaigns, the Philippines' own laws are generally mum on what can be done with such funds.

This means that it is possible for candidates to pocket the millions in leftover funds without violating election or tax laws. 

According to the Commission on Elections, the main regulatory measure in the country's election laws is "the imposition of an expenditure limit based on the size of the candidates' or parties' constituency."

 with a report from Xave Gregorio 

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