VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Did Imee fund Duterte’s campaign?

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte believes he was destined for the presidency, having won despite little financial backing from politicians–if at all. If his campaign had a saving grace, it was Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, he said.

STATEMENT: Speaking before Luzon local chief executives on Oct. 4 during the Sulong Pilipinas Convention – Local Governance Series, Duterte said:

“Sa totoo lang, just to illustrate to you how destiny (played a role). Sino sa inyo ang nagsuporta sa akin? Sino? 1 or 2. Ilan lang? 4, 5, 6? Wala akong barangay captain, wala akong congressman, wala akong pera. Si Imee pa ang nagbigay. Sabi niya, inutang daw niya. Si Imee, supported me.”
(Honestly, just to illustrate to you how destiny [played a role]. Who among you supported me? Just 1 or 2. How many? 4, 5, 6? I had no barangay captain and congressman (to support me), I had no money. It was Imee who gave. She said she borrowed it. Imee supported me.)

(Source: 3rd Sulong Pilipinas Convention 2016, Oct. 4, 2016. Watch from 17:13 to 18:25)

On Oct. 17, Marcos denied Duterte’s claim, saying she was stunned by what could be another “joke” from the president.

Wala namang katotohanan ‘yan. Palabiro lang ang Presidente Duterte, pinapalundag niya tayong lahat, pati ako, napalundag eh. (That is not true. President Duterte loves to kid around, he surprises us. Even I was surprised),” Marcos told reporters outside the Supreme Court, as she joined supporters lobbying for his late father’s hero’s burial.

(Source: GMA News’ Oct. 17 report)

If she had any contribution in Duterte’s campaign, it was solely to solicit votes for him in the Ilocos Region, the Marcoses’ political bailiwick, she said.

The Campaign Finance Office told VERA Files it has started to look into the authenticity of Duterte’s claim. (See story: Comelec probes Duterte’s campaign finance)

FACT:

Documents obtained by VERA Files showed Marcos’ name does not appear among the 183 donors listed by Duterte and his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), in their Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).

Based on the two statements, the president himself spent only P200,000 from his own pocket. He even didn’t receive a single peso from PDP-Laban.

Duterte’s biggest donor is Antonio Floirendo Jr., who contributed a total of P100 million to Duterte’s campaign—P75 million to Duterte and P25 million to the PDP-Laban. Floirendo was among the prime movers of the Alyansa ng mga Duterte at Bongbong (ALDUB), a group that campaigned for a Duterte-Bongbong Marcos tandem.

Floirendo’s father Antonio Sr. had faced allegations of being a Marcos crony. His family controls the Philippines’ biggest banana-exporting business and some real estate holdings.

Floirendo Jr.’s brother-in-law, Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo, is the new ambassador to the United Kingdom.

PDP-Laban’s top donor, businessman Jerry M. Navarrete, donated P30 million.

Navarrete used to be executive vice president of the Nacionalista Party, the political party of the Marcoses, including Imee, losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Imelda, who is Ilocos Norte representative.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, candidates and political parties are required to file a “full, true and itemized” SOCE 30 days after election day.

The SOCE discloses the candidates’expenses, a list of funders and what they contributed to during the campaign period from Feb. 9 to May 7. Pre-campaign donations are not listed in the SOCE and are not covered by campaign finance laws.

Failure to file would prevent winning candidates from taking oath of office. If the political party which nominated them doesn’t comply, the same rules will apply, according to the Omnibus Election Code.

The Comelec’s CFO described its investigation on Duterte’s SOCE as “informal or internal” investigation” and said there were no updates.

The CFO raised the possibility that Duterte’s statement about Imee Marcos was carelessly made, noting that the president is often not mindful of what he says. But the Comelec unit also said it is not discounting the veracity of the statement.

Under Comelec’s Omnibus Rules on Campaign Finance, an incomplete SOCE — one that doesn’t contain all required information—is considered “not filed,” a violation that carries a P30,000 fine for presidential candidates and political parties.

Nondisclosure of donors, on the other hand, is tantamount to an election offense, the CFO said.

Section 106 of the Omnibus Election Code requires candidates and treasurers of political parties to issue a receipt for every contribution, as well as keep “detailed, full and accurate records of all contributions received.”

Violators face jail time of one to six years, and disqualification from holding public office and aside from being deprived of the right to vote. Political parties found guilty face a fine of at least P10,000.

However, it would be difficult to prove if Marcos indeed funded Duterte’s campaign, an election lawyer told VERA Files.

Apart from the SOCE and supporting receipts, there are no other documents that could prove Marcos poured money into Duterte’s campaign except probably bank deposits, he said. And those are covered by the Bank Secrecy Law.

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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