Santiago wants probe into excessive ad spending of rivals
PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Sunday said that she will call for a Senate investigation on the excessive advertising spending of her rivals for the presidency.
Santiago said that the probe is in line with her desire to push for the passage of her two bills which are related to election campaigning: the Anti-Premature Campaigning Bill and Certificate of Intention to Run for Public Office (CIRPO) Bill.
Under the Anti-Premature Campaigning Bill, aspirants will be officially considered as candidates the moment they file their certificate of candidacies. It will also bar candidates from holding any election-related activities before the campaign period.
Meanwhile, under the CIRPO Bill, people aspiring to run for public office will be required to file certificates of intention to run for public office, which will allow the Commission on Elections “to monitor their election-related activities and expenses” before they file their COC.
“By sitting on my bill against premature campaigning, my colleagues in the Senate have missed an opportunity to address a problem before it manifested itself. Now that the problem is staring them in the face, maybe they can be convinced to act,” Santiago said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Santiago asked the public to be discerning and treat as “red flags for corruption” the hundreds of millions spent by her rivals for ads which have aired even before the start of the campaign period.
She said that to recoup the money they spent, these presidential aspirants will resort to pocketing public funds or granting favors to donors.
“The question we must ask is this: How will these politicians recover the scandalous amounts they spend for their campaign? The simple answer is that they will steal from public funds, or will at least be tempted to do so. An alternative would be to give favors to rich contributors, to the detriment of public interest,” Santiago said.
A Nielsen report said that Santiago’s rivals have reportedly spent a total of P2.3 billion for television ads for 2015.
Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas was the biggest spender with P774 million, followed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, P695 million. Senator Grace Poe came in third with P694 million, followed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, P129 million.
Santiago, meanwhile, is yet to release a political ad.
She said that Binay, Roxas and Poe have already exceeded the campaign expenses limit set by Comelec—P10 per voter or P545 million for the expected 54.5 million voters—even before the start of the campaign period on February 9.
“A president’s salary is only P120,000 a month. He or she may thus expect to earn only P8.64 million for the six years that he or she is in office. These big spenders therefore cannot say that they will earn their money back if elected,” the senator said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.