Politicians as endorsers: There ought to be a law, 2 solons sayBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
One senator endorses a hotdog, a razor and a wristwatch, while another is the face of a computer school. Two others have appeared in television commercials promoting detergent products.
So what’s wrong with politicians working as product endorsers?
A lot, according to two members of the House of Representatives who have filed a bill seeking to penalize public officials, whether elected or appointed, who engage in product advertising, especially in time for election campaigns.
Under House Bill No. 2571, such officials would be removed from office, disqualified from holding any other government position or from running “for any position in the next election.” They would also be slapped with a “fine in an amount not less than double the amount of the value of the advertisement.”
“Whatever reason these public officials may have in doing such advertisements is immaterial,” said Representatives Rufus and Maximo Rodriguez in the explanatory note to HB 2571.
“The fact remains that these advertisements give them undue advantage over other prospective candidates. Further, they may face conflict of interest should an investigation be conducted by them on the products they are endorsing,” they said.
‘In any form or medium’
The proposed law bans the endorsement or advertisement by a government official of “any product or service in any form or medium.”
One of the perennial survey topnotchers among the senatorial candidates, Sen. Francis Escudero, has a number of product endorsements under his name. He is the “brand ambassador” of Frabelle Foods. He was even featured in a cooking demo during Frabelle’s product launch last July.
Escudero also appears in ads endorsing a computer school, a razor, a wristwatch and an herbal supplement.
Sen. Bong Revilla Jr., a movie star who continues to make movies, also endorses a computer university. In the past, Senators Pia Cayetano and Loren Legarda have appeared in commercials for detergent products.
Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, who is running for senator under the administration ticket, has appeared in food supplement ads that include his father, outgoing Sen. Edgardo Angara, and his son.
Other senatorial candidates have also come up with their own TV commercials, without necessarily endorsing a particular commercial product.
Sen. Koko Pimentel has an ad encouraging voters to register, while Cynthia Villar is featured in one touting her livelihood program in Las Piñas.
Risa Hontiveros, a leader of the controversial Akbayan party-list group who is running under the ruling Liberal Party coalition, has a TV commercial promoting the family, which critics in social media have denounced as a form of early campaigning.
The bill’s coauthors cited a provision of the Omnibus Election Code that bars candidates from engaging in an “election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period.”