MANILA , JUNE 18, 2010 (STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - The biggest campaign contributor of president-elect Benigno Aquino III turned out to be his maternal uncle, former communications and television mogul Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco.

The Statement of Contributions and Expenditures submitted by Aquino to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed Cojuangco, former president and chief executive officer of ABC-5/TV-5, donated a whooping P100 million to the campaign kitty of his nephew.

Aquino claimed to have received a total of P440,050,000 in contributions but only spent P403,119,981.81 during the campaign.

Aquino also listed 96 contributors who gave donations ranging from P50,000 to P100 million.

Apart from Cojuangco, among the biggest financial supporters of Aquino were Chiong Bu Hong, Pancake House Group president Martin Ignacio Lorenzo and former Environment Secretary Fulgencio Factoran, who donated P20 million each.

Aquino’s sisters Kris Aquino-Yap contributed P15 million, Aurora “Pinky” Abellada donated P5 million and Ma. Elena “Balsy” Cruz gave P3 million.

The statement also revealed a certain Leonardo Javier Jr. donated P14 million to Aquino.

Among those who donated P10 million were former Trade and Industry Secretary Cesar Purisima, Jose Ramon Aliling, Alex Tanwangco, Jose Mari Gamboa, David Lim, Elena Lim, Abeto Uy, Felix Ang, Felipe Diego, Felix Chung, Jose Antonio Larrauri and Gerardo Esquivel.

Aquino submitted the statement of contributions following the election law that all winning and losing candidates should file their statements of campaign contributions and expenditures with the Comelec.

The law limits the spending of presidential bets to only P10 per voter. But since there are some 50.8 million voters for the May 10 polls, presidential candidates could spend up to P508 million during the campaign.

NOY ASKED TO FILE SUPPLEMENTAL STATEMENT ON CONTRIBUTIONS By Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) Updated June 18, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday advised president-elect Benigno Aquino III to submit a supplemental Statement of Contributions and Expenditures for the P37-million surplus in his campaign funds.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said it is better for Aquino to declare where the surplus went to put an end to questions about the usage of his campaign funds.

“If they claim that they under-spent or spent below the spending cap, then excellent for them. But again, if people are now saying that they have a surplus but they spent it for things that were not pertinent to the election, perhaps they might want to submit a supplement to their original submissions and they can do so until the June 24 deadline,” he said.

In his statement, Aquino initially declared receiving contributions totaling P440,050,000 and spending only 403,119,981. This means that there is a surplus of some P37 million.

Aquino’s biggest donor is his cousin, former communications and television mogul Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, who was wrongly reported earlier by The STAR as his maternal uncle.

But according to Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda, all the funds could be accounted for. The supposedly excess funds were spent to pay for withholding taxes, printing of sample ballots, legal fees, and allowances of poll watchers across the country.

Lacierda claimed that these were no longer declared since they were spent after the May 8 deadline for the campaign period.

Jimenez also admitted that the Comelec does not pay much attention to how excess funds are spent, if there are any.

“You cannot look into the purpose of the donors. Donation is an act of liberality. ‘I give you money because I want to give you money.’ Whatever the purpose is attached to that at that time, that’s beyond our control,” Jimenez said.

Hands not tied

Aquino said yesterday his hands were not tied by those who gave him campaign contributions, even if they were members of his family.

Cojuangco, former president and chief executive officer of ABC-5/TV-5, donated P100 million to the campaign kitty of his cousin.

Aquino listed 96 contributors who gave donations ranging from P50,000 to P100 million.

Aquino said he did not promise anything to the contributors other than a level playing field.

“I couldn’t go further than that. If there is a businessman, I would tell him, ‘I’m getting in bed with you, what should I know?’ So he has to clarify, for want of a better term. ‘What are your issues? What help do you expect?’ Then he would say, it would be up to me to attend to my issues,” Aquino said.

Aquino said expectations would have to be made clear and if the contribution would be in exchange for any help.

“(I say) no thank you. We have ‘no, thank you’ notes. There are many who got this,” Aquino said.

Aquino admitted that some contributors even tried to frighten or threaten them, saying they would give their donations to their rivals if Aquino would not accept them.

“We stood by our principle because we were not sure about them. But I never told anyone that you’re a difficult person to deal with, so I don’t want to talk to you. I was campaigning then. In a very nice way, we refused assistance. We had a criteria for those we accepted – can we pay debt of gratitude to these people in the future?” he said.

Aquino said they were careful not to tie their decisions to the conditions of those who offered support.

He admitted that they were pressured at one point to look for resources because they had turned down a lot of offers.

Aquino cited in particular one donor whom they heard was a gambling lord. An intermediary came to them on his behalf, but they just said sorry, they could not take any donation from them. – With Aurea Calica

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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