LENTE leads implementation of study re abuse of state resources

Kara Angan


LENTE leads implementation of study re abuse of state resources

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), in collaboration with the Right to Know Right Now Coalition, leads the implementation of an Abuse of State Resources (ASR) monitoring study nationwide, the first of its kind in the Philippines, which gauges the misuse of government resources during the campaign period.

As described in current laws, ASR is a specific form of political corruption whereby incumbent political parties and candidates manipulate or misuse government resources for electoral advantage. There are four (4) kinds of abuse of state resources: (1) financial; (2) institutional; (3) regulatory; and (4) coercive resources. 

The study employed 40 long-term observers in 17 identified vote-rich and income-generating areas nationwide which will run for fourteen weeks. Long-term observers conducted interviews with six election stakeholders: voters, permanent local government employees, candidates or their campaign staff, community leaders, vulnerable sectors, and other non-partisan stakeholders. 

Initial results from the monitoring show that only 21.5% or 28 out of the 130 voter respondents and 28% or 45 out of the 161 community leader respondents said that they have observed candidates using state vehicles or state resources during their campaign. While the numbers may be interpreted to have few instances of candidates using state vehicles or state resources observed during the campaign, a focused group discussion with the long-term observers, however, revealed that people have a hard time identifying instances of Abuse of State Resources and differentiating between social services and ASR. Thus, public awareness and discussion on the abuse of state resources need to be elevated, especially on the part of the voters. 

On the other hand, on the part of civil servants, the observation is not the same. 93% or 66 out of the 71 civil servants interviewed claimed that they are aware of the legal restrictions imposed on government employees for the conduct of campaign activities. 

On the part of candidates or their campaign staff, the initial results of the monitoring showed that there is seemingly unequal access to resources with only 17.3% or only 4 out of 23 candidates or campaign staff interviewed claiming that they have equal access to institutional and financial resources. 

We recommend that we further refine the current legal framework for ASR, particularly, its definition. While there are laws prohibiting the use of state resources such as vehicles, buildings, civil servants, and other state resources during elections, much effort is left to be done in terms of law enforcement which presently leave the electoral system vulnerable to manipulation and misuse of state resources by incumbent officials. W  e also call on the general public to be more cooperative and vigilant and report instances of abuse of state resources to oversight bodies and to LENTE. 

After these initial findings, our long-term observers will conduct a second round of interviews with the abovementioned stakeholders. In addition, the LENTE Secretariat will conduct national-level research on the abuse of public infrastructure and vehicles, state funds on programs and projects, the politicization of civil servants, and the use of state media, with the COMELEC, CSC, DILG, and several CSOS as respondents.

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