Vice President Leni Robredo did not violate electoral laws when she received campaign donations through her personal account in 2016, contrary to a viral TikTok video that splices clips from a 6-year-old interview of Robredo to imply that she pocketed those contributions.
It is not illegal for electoral candidates to receive contributions through their personal account as long as these and all other contributions are declared in their Statement of Contribution and Expenditures (SOCE), according to the Omnibus Election Code.
Resolution No. 9991 issued in October 2015 by the Commission on Elections also does not forbid the depositing of campaign donations into personal accounts. The resolution provided the rules and regulations concerning campaign finances in the 2016 elections.
TikTok account my.president posted Feb. 17 a 25-second video excerpting Robredo’s May 2, 2016 interview on ABS-CBN’s now defunct late night news program Bandila with the sticker text “LENI lang malakas (Only Leni is strong)” at the top.
It opens with an excerpt from University of the Philippines Diliman political science professor Clarito Carlos during the Feb. 15 presidential debate by Sonshine Media Network International saying:
Only a stupid person will report na nakakuha ako ng milyon dyan sa bayong di ba (they received millions of pesos from the bag, right)?
Carlos used the word “bayong” to refer to the practice of candidates receiving contributions without a paper trail, such as not declaring the amount in their SOCE.
The video then shows the text “meanwhile” as it transitions to a spliced clip of Robredo saying:
Maraming mga nagdodonate na pinapasok ko sa aking personal account. So kailangan ko yun isiwalat (I had to receive a lot of donations through my personal account. So I needed to declare that).
Asked if she receives the campaign funds personally, Robredo answers: “Yung iba (A few).”
The video then cuts to Carlos laughing with the panelists from the presidential debate, followed by a clip of Robredo from the interview saying “8 million.”
The caption of the video also reads, “Di ako natatakot (I’m not afraid),” which refers to a portion of Robredo’s speech from her campaign’s proclamation rally in Naga City this month.
The TikTok video places out of context a clip from the Bandila interview in which Robredo said she declared around P8 million as her cash on hand in her 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. The video makes it appear that she said she received that much in campaign donations.
Robredo’s full answer to how much cash on hand she declared in her SALN is found at the 3:20 mark:
Hindi ko sigurado yung eksakto, siguro mga 8 million, if I’m not mistaken. Pero medyo bloated kasi yun ngayon, kasi noong nagkandidato ako, noong nagfile ako ng certificate of candidacy noong October, maraming mga nagdodonate na pinapasok ko sa aking personal account. So kailangan ko yun isiwalat.
(I’m not sure of the exact figure. Maybe around P8 million, if I’m not mistaken. But that figure is bloated right now because when I filed my certificate of candidacy in October, I had to receive a lot of donations through my personal account. So I needed to declare that.)
Robredo also clarified that she received some of her campaign funds personally, while most were managed by her campaign team.
Carlos was also not referring to Robredo or any other candidate but was discussing with former Iloilo Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico Republic Act 7166, a law that requires all candidates to declare all of their contributions and expenditures in connection with the election.
At the 2:15 mark, Carlos said she noted in her book on political parties and elections how some candidates would receive money through bayongs or bags to avoid having to declare it on paper. She goes on to make the statement that was included in the TikTok video.
The TikTok video has been shared at least 10,000 times and viewed by 4.3 million users as of writing. The account has posted several videos in support of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whom Robredo defeated in 2016.
This recycled clip of Robredo’s 2016 interview has been used in several videos last year to falsely claim she committed an electoral offense, as reported by The Baguio Chronicles, VERA Files and Rappler. (CC)