Four candidates for President, five for Vice President and two dozen other candidates for senator and local posts have shelled out P6.7 billion since their political ads started being shown in March 2015, or 14 months ahead of the May 9, 2016 elections, according to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ.)
The group said with such a high tab, the May 9 elections will be the most expensive electoral exercise in Philippine history.
“Who paid for the ads? The candidates have variably said that their unnamed donors, and/or portions of their own money, covered the expense. But why ever must donors part with their millions when only the candidates stand to gain from political ads? And how, some citizens have asked, should the candidates pay back these donors who gave them not just money but also a quick ride to instant celebrity and fame on TV?” the PCIJ noted, citing a report of Nielsen Media, which has monitored the political ads of candidates shown on TV.
“By Nielsen Media’s monitoring reports, overkill is an understatement. It does not suffice to describe the stupendously rich pre-campaign ad spend of four candidates for President–Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance; Rodrigo Duterte of PDP-Laban; Grace Poe of the Galing at Puso slate; and Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas 2nd of the Liberal Party.
Specific to the last detail, Nielsen Media’s reports enroll the day, date and time, and in which TV programs the ads aired; their rate card cost at the time of broadcast; and which versions of the candidates’ ad materials ran,” the PCIJ said.
In an article, PCIJ executive director Malou Mangahas said if these candidates had been dipping into their own pockets, nearly all of them would now be on the throes of bankruptcy.
She pointed out that Roxas, Binay and Poe “had even made it to the Billion-Peso Club of ad spenders ahead of the official 90-day campaign period that started on February 9, 2016.”
“According to Nielsen Media’s monitoring reports, as of January 31, 2016 and by the rate card of media agencies, the political ads featuring these three as “advertiser” and “product” had reached the billionth mark: P1,050,065,096 for Binay, P1,016,414,123 for Poe; and P969,173,267 for Roxas. And while he decided to run only in December 2016, a fourth candidate for President, Rodrigo Duterte of the PDP-Laban Party, had also recorded a bill of P146,351,131 for his pre-campaign ads,” Mangahas said.
She said six candidates for Vice President incurred similarly significant expenses for their solo ads:
P419,002,456 for Duterte’s official running mate Alan Peter Cayetano;
P273,856,544 for LP’s Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo;
P252,503,856 for Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.;
P29,673,341 for UNA’s Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan 2nd;
P8,953,380 for Antonio Trillanes 4th; and
P2,776,000 for GP’s Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero.