The Case For Dual Citizens And Their “Influence” Over Philippine Politics

img_5083In the latest episode of ‘KanTalk,’ Thinking Pinoy, Sass Rogando Sasot and guest Atty Bruce Rivera discussed the issue of dual citizenship in the context of dual citizens being able to influence elections in both countries in which they are citizens.

Case in point was, of course, FilAm millionaire (billionaire by Philippine standards) Loida Nicolas-Lewis who is known to have supported the candidacies of U.S. President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while also supporting Mar Roxas and now Vice President Leni Robredo.

Nicolas-Lewis has made headlines recently because of openly calling for the resignation of President Duterte so that her candidate “Leni Robredo can take over.”

Politikal Pinoy (a dual citizen) believes that the most relevant issue is not whether dual citizens can contribute financially to political campaigns in both countries of their citizenship.

By virtue of their dual citizenship, Filipino Americans have the right to vote in both elections, and really —  to contribute to political campaigns.

Republic Act 9225 allowing Filipinos who have elected foreign citizenship to re-acquire Philippine citizen status, grants dual citizens the same rights, privileges and obligations as every other Filipino citizen.

Rather, what needs to be looked at (and implemented) are established laws that govern elections and political campaign contributions.

In the United States, Federal Election Commission rules state that an individual may give a maximum of $2,700 per election to a Federal candidate or the candidate’s campaign committee. That limit applies separately to each election. Primaries, runoffs and general elections are considered separate elections. $5,000 per calendar year to a PAC.

The campaign contribution limit is precisely designed to prevent any single individual from exerting undue influence over an election.

In the Philippines, the Omnibus Election Code is clear about who can and cannot contribute to political campaigns. While foreigners are expressly prohibited from contributing to candidates, dual citizens are not considered “foreigners.”

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In addition, the OEC also sets campaign spending limits for all candidates for political office:

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This is precisely why political candidates are required by law to submit to the Commission on Elections a detailed accounting of their campaign expenditure for each election period.

img_8386So, with due respect to the opinions of Thinking Pinoy, Sass Rogando Sasot and Atty. Bruce Rivera, the logical approach to the issue of dual citizen influence over Philippine elections should be to ensure that OEC rules are strictly implemented, and perhaps amended to set individual campaign contribution limits similar what is practiced in the United States.

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