Beware of greedy politicians | Inquirer News
Sharp Edges

Beware of greedy politicians

Candidates in the May polls offer sincere public service, talk about their love of fellowmen and promise us all a better future in their house-to-house campaign or town meetings, through radio or TV advertisements and via social media or campaign posters.

But actually, this political circus is a personal business venture for some bets eyeing more fame, power and wealth.


The Commission on Elections says senatorial candidates can spend P3 per voter if they are party members on top of an additional P5 per voter from their political parties.

With 61.8 million registered voters, this means each candidate running for the Senate can spend P185.4 million for campaigning, with their political party contributing an additional P309 million. Independent bets can spend only P309 million.


Can they recover such a huge amount of money in six years? The salary of a senator is P117,086 a month at salary grade 31, or a total of P8.43 million in six years.

Looking at the 2017 data, the total yearly expenses per senator (salaries/allowances of staff, maintenance and operating expenses, etc.) range from a high of P127 million to a low of P63 million.

Multiply this by six years, and each senator can spend anywhere from P378 million to P762 million.

If you include their “pet projects” in the different departments, allowances and oversight perks as committee chairs or vice chairs, their incomes can run up to tens of millions of pesos yearly.

Yes, they can recover their election expenses.

No wonder that, based on the January 2018-January 2019 precampaign ad spending statistics, we see the leading senatorial candidates spending from P72 million to P422 million. Expect the figures to further climb in the weeks to come.

It’s a totally different matter all together in the local elections.


For example, Manila has 979,479 registered voters and with a spending limit of P3 per voter plus an additional P5 per voter from their political parties, candidates have a campaign fund of only P7,835,832 each. How can you win with that funding?

It is an open secret that a congressman in Manila will have to shell out anywhere from P40 million to P60 million just to have a winning chance.

But with P200 million (based on 2019 budget) for pork barrel projects every year, plus perks and allowances, they can recover their campaign funds in three years’ time.

What about the candidates for Manila mayor? Informed sources say that a winnable campaign fund should not be lower than P300 million (way above the Comelec’s spending limit of P7.8 million).

Can the winner recover this in three years?

Yes, with a hefty profit. With a minimum 10-percent “smiling commission,” the mayor will recover campaign funds from the city’s garbage collection, infrastructure projects, supplies and services, special projects and special contracts. Other income will be from yearly “intelligence funds,” business permits and tax settlement matters, and the bountiful “illegal businesses” in the city (bookies, clubs and other protection rackets).

If the winner is greedy, the recovery of campaign funds can happen within the first half of one’s term.

So, all of us must keep watch over these businessmen-politicians who will steal taxpayer’s money. And please, don’t vote for them.

Tune in to the “Banner Story” radio-TV show, Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-9 a.m., on dzIQ (990AM), ABS-CBN TV Plus Channel 30. E-mail [email protected] for comments.

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Comelec, greedy politicians, Jake J. Maderazo, Sharp Edges
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