PH presidential candidates outspend billionaire Trump
Presidential candidates in the Philippines are spending on media advertising more than what American billionaire Donald Trump has spent for his dream to sit in the White House, according to an independent senatorial candidate.
Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, who is running for senator on a shoestring budget, called on voters to declare war on what he called a “corruption of the political process.”
Bello cited data from the Federal Electoral Commission which showed that Trump, who is seeking the US presidency, had so far spent $2 million (P94.18 million at an exchange rate of P47.09 to $1, or P13.45 million a month) from January to July last year.
Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz, each spent $5 million (P235.45 million, or P33.64 million a month).
A Nielsen monitoring report on total ad spending for TV, radio and print from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2015, showed three presidential candidates each spending more than half a billion pesos—Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas (P774.192 million, or P70.38 million a month), Vice President Jejomar Binay (P695.55 million, or P63.23 million a month) and Sen. Grace Poe (P694.603 million, or P63.14 million a month ).
“Binay, Poe, and Roxas each spent $9 million to $10 million each, presumably most of it in just the last two and a half months of 2015 and just on TV ads,” Bello said.
For television ads in the 11-month period, Binay spent P595,713,000, according to Nielsen data.
Poe was in second place, with P448,166,000, followed by Roxas with P424,870,000. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte came in fourth with P115,423,000.
Among the vice presidential candidates, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was the biggest spender with P398,288,000, followed by Sen. Bongbong Marcos with P103,429,000.
Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo came in third with P91,602,000, followed by Sen. Gregorio Honasan II with P43,580,000.
At the bottom of the list was Sen. Francis Escudero, having spent only P30,000.
Among the senatorial aspirants, the top spender was Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez with P310,763,000.
Other senatorial candidates and the amounts they spent for TV ads were: Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, P166.9 million; former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Francis Tolentino, P144.1 million; Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, P89.8 million; former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, P86.3 million; former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, P54.5 million; former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, P52.2 million; former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority head Joel Villanueva, P40.5 million; Sen. Serge Osmeña, P21.9 million; former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, P20.2 million; Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, P4.3 million; and broadcaster Rey Langit, P405,000.
Bello said that at the rate these well-funded candidates for President, Vice President and senators were burning money, “they are literally buying the elections and the campaign season has barely begun.”
The official campaign season for candidates for President, Vice President, senator and party-list group representation starts on Feb. 9. The start of the campaign period for local candidates is on March 26.
Amazing for poor country
“The electoral spending in the Philippines is reaching US levels, with some of the candidates apparently outspending some of the US candidates for the presidential nomination,” said Bello in a text message to the Inquirer.
“This is amazing, for a poor country. This is profoundly undemocratic and is surely going to result in massive corruption later so that the candidates can regain their investments while in office.”
The independent senatorial candidate said those like him who were abiding by the rules were profoundly disadvantaged by these unfair players.
“This is all the more reason for putting very strict limits on campaign spending, like keeping the total for all forms of campaigning at very low levels,” Bello said.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it could not prevent political aspirants from engaging in premature campaigning through TV ads because there was no law prohibiting it.
In a press briefing, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said the commission could only monitor spending during the campaign period.
“For the record, there is no law right now that regulates spending because we know that the meters start running only at the beginning of campaign period,” he said. “According to the law, campaign expenditures only kicks in at the start of campaign period.”
He lamented that even if the poll body was willing to monitor all spending related to campaigning, including early or premature campaigning, the Comelec simply did not have the mandate.
Hole in law
“The law has a gap. The law has a hole,” Bautista said, adding that the decision is up to the voting public if it would support political aspirants who spend so much on TV ads.
Republic Act No. 9369 or the Poll Automation Law provides that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy shall only be considered a candidate at the start of the campaign period” and that “unlawful acts applicable to a candidate shall be in effect only upon that start of the campaign period.
LP chief of political affairs and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said that among the presidential candidates, Roxas had the biggest resources to justify his campaign spending.
“Mar and his family are the most capable if we will base it on his SALN (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth) and history of business engagements. Binay and Poe should be asked, ‘Where did they get their funds?’” said Erice.
Coalition spokesperson and Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo said Roxas generated his funds from friends, supporters and family.
In a statement, Cayetano claimed that reports on television advertising expenses of presidential and vice presidential candidates were erroneous.
“The amounts reported are overstated because Nielsen admitted that these are based on published rate cards, which in all cases are so much more than what was actually paid for,” Cayetano said.
He defended his ads, saying that the media were the most effective way to reach the public.
“Using media and advocacy advertising, we were able to communicate better to a broader audience amid the black propaganda mounted against us by those who were affected by my relentless antigraft and corruption campaign,” he said. With a report from Nancy C. Carvajal
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