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Money’s color

When it was yet to be in vogue, the Liberal Party’s (LP) pink standard bearer Leni Robredo had employed what her camp called as crowdfunding to raise campaign funds for Robredo’s House bid in 2013 that earned a Commission on Elections (Comelec) probe.

Running on a platform of clean and transparent governance, Robredo proved to be a pretender.

Documents filed with the Comelec by then Camarines Sur congressional candidate Nelly Villafuerte after the 2013 polls alleged Robredo as having solicited campaign funds from foreign donors in violation of Section 96 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).

That portion of the OEC states, “It shall be unlawful for any person including a political party or public or private entity to solicit or receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or contribution of whatever form or nature from any foreign national, government or entity for purposes of influencing the results of the elections.”

Receipt of donations from foreign individuals and entities was acknowledged by Robredo herself in her social media account, according to Villafuerte.

A precursor of crowdfunding was the solicitation of donations from foreign nationals and entities through an open letter issued on 1 February 2013 at the behest of New York-based Filipino-American billionaire Loida Nicolas-Lewis.

In her open letter, Robredo stated the steps through which the foreign solicitations could be made possible.

Portion of the letter indicated, “To support Atty. Leni Robredo’s campaign, please make/send checks to, Mail check payable to ‘Loida Lewis ITF Leni Robredo’ PO Box 1080, Gracie Station, NY NY 10028. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/attyLeniRobredo.”

The complainant indicated that Robredo acknowledged the receipt of the foreign donations in her website, listing the names of the foreign individuals and entities who gave to the fundraiser.

The argument put forward by Villafuerte was that Lewis can’t claim both Filipino and American citizenship.

Lewis was General Attorney in the US government, specifically in the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1970 to 1990, and actively participated in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns of US President Barack Obama and also as financial contributor, which she can do only as an American citizen.

If Lewis claims to be a Filipino citizen, which would enable her to contribute to Robredo’s campaign, then she would be considered a foreign national in the United States, which would put her in trouble for contributing to Obama’s campaign.

The list of Robredo’s contributors revealed names of natural-born Americans or naturalized Americans, including Dr. Edward Seidel, an American married to a Filipina, Lorna, who also acquired her US citizenship; lawyer Rodel Rodis, the first Filipino-American to win an elective post in the US; Robert Federigan; Robert Heiberger; Rainier Asprer; and Richard Sublett.

Lewis and Rodis teamed up to accuse Energy Secretary Al Cusi and some business officials of irregularity before the Ombudsman in the recent Malampaya natural gas transactions.

Cusi dismissed the complaint as part of the opposition’s political propaganda, since he is being targeted as president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban).

Among the contributors that the Comelec should watch out for in the crowdfunding offensive are The Unlimited Agency Inc., which is a corporation registered in the state of Illinois, USA; The Bicol USA of the Midwest, also in Illinois, and Fundrazr, an online website used to raise funds from anonymous donors.

Fundrazr is reportedly the flagship product of a company called Connection Point Systems, a privately-owned and funded Canadian company.

Robredo was taken to task for not reporting to the Comelec the names of those who actually contributed to her campaign fund.

In response, Robredo executed a counter-affidavit disowning Lewis as her agent to solicit campaign funds and indicated Lewis only turned over her personal contributions to her.

To say that Lewis and her cabal of yellow turncoats have launched their offensive for the 2022 campaign of pink bet Leni Robredo is belaboring the obvious.

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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