Cash-strapped UNA fears rates for 30-second ads to go up further to P1M

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Rep. Tobias Tiangco. SENATE POOL FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—With less than a month to go before the May 13 elections, the campaign kitty of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) appears to be running dry.

Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA campaign manager and secretary general, said on Tuesday the coalition had not put out a TV ad for its senatorial candidates for a month now. He said the last one aired on March 17.

“(Our funds) are running dry, you can say that,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview.

Tiangco said the UNA ticket still had 59 minutes remaining of the 120-minute limit allowed for TV ads by the Commission on Elections. He said the 59 minutes would cost UNA P59 million since the networks charge half a million pesos for a 30-second ad.

And it will not help that the networks are reportedly planning to jack up the price to P1 million per half-minute, according to a campaign veteran affiliated with a major political party.

The source, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said he was approached by some senatorial candidates who were worried about the cost of TV ads going up.

“I hope they won’t do that because it would make the cost even more prohibitive for the candidates,” said the source.

He said the move would go against the Fair Election Act, which has mandated media outlets to provide “registered political parties and bona fide candidates” a 30-percent discount for TV ads.

The discount is based on the average ad rates during the “first three quarters of the calendar year preceding the elections.”

Tiangco said the administration Team PNoy coalition held an “inherent advantage when it comes to campaign funds.”

He also said administration officials could “harass” prospective donors and threaten them with repercussions should they contribute to the UNA campaign.

“Though I believe the President will not go down to harassing businessmen, the people around him could do so,” he said.

In a campaign sortie in Misamis Occidental last week, Rep. JV Ejercito harped on UNA’s problem with campaign funds as well.

He said it had forced him to visit six to eight provinces a week in the final stretch of the campaign to “offset the advantages” of the administration when it came to funding.

“We’ll just do it with hard work,” he told reporters.

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