Huge ad spending ‘red flag’ for corruption


THE hundreds of billions of pesos already spent by presidential candidates even before the start of the election period should send voters a “red flag” signal indicating corruption, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Sunday.

“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,” Santiago pointed out.

The senator was reacting to news reports published recently on the ad spending of national candidates in 2015, showing Manuel Roxas 2nd–Liberal Party standard- bearer–as the top ad spender, shelling out P774 million from January to December 2015.

The reports also showed Vice President Jejomar Binay as the second biggest ad spender, having spent P695 million, while independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe ranked third with P694 million.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who declared his candidacy on November 2015, spent P129,599,000 on television, radio and print ads.

“The question we must ask is this: How will these politicians recover the scandalous amounts they spent 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,” said Santiago, who is also running for President, with Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as her running mate.

According to her, the figures will show that almost all of her rivals already spent beyond the expected limit for campaign expenses and it was made months before the campaign period could even begin.

By Commission on Elections (Comelec) standards, she said, every presidential candidate may spend only P10 per voter, or a total of P545 million for the projected 54.5 million voters in 2016.

Although a Supreme Court ruling in the 2009 case of Peñera v. Comelec had virtually repealed Section 80 of the Omnibus Elections Code that prohibits premature campaigning, Santiago said, excessive ad spending contradicts the constitutional principle that “a public office is a public trust.”

Section 80 states, “It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a voter or candidate, or for any party, or association of persons, to engage in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during the campaign period.”

Santiago, the only presidential candidate who is yet to release political ads, at the same time said she will call for a Senate inquiry into the ad splurge.

The senator has two proposed measures pending at the Senate.

One seeks to prevent candidates from engaging in premature campaigning and the other requires politicians who intend to run for public office to file certificates of intention to run for public office (CIRPO), allowing the Comelec to monitor their election-related activities and expenses even before they file certificates of candidacy.

The two bills, Santiago said, intend to reject the Peñera doctrine, which, according to her, allows candidates to work around campaign spending limits imposed by the Comelec during the campaign period.

Maximized expenses
Meanwhile, election lawyer Romeo Macalintal said candidates who have been spending for their respective campaign ads prior to the campaign period could have further made their ads effective had they only spent time to understand the law.

According to Macalintal, since there is no premature campaigning, candidates can directly state on their ads that they are running for President, Vice President or any other position without getting into trouble with the law.

It will be better for candidates to openly admit in their ads their true intentions rather than publishing or airing ads that do not include the position they are running for, he said.

Macalintal added that paying for ads that do not include the real purpose of a candidate can be considered as either an attempt to trick the people, or an indication of their ignorance of election laws.



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  1. The point she is making is that our culture has always acknowledged the prominence of utang na loob and most of the money will probably come from donations that later the candidates will have to repay in any way which may or may not be detrimental to the real needs of the nation. Most of the time it will be for the sponsor’s benefit and not the country. Now most of these sponsors are the affluent in society who may ask a favor where their less fortunate employees, workers and farmers will be negatively affected, you know how that works. So I really doubt that the others who have spent so much will be honest and forthright when they get elected. Honest maybe to a point but ultimately will still be doing something around our blindspots with their flowery words not knowing we’ve already been hit.

  2. I agree with Santiago. “Donors” will expect something in return once their bet has assumed position. Sadly, Filipinos do not care about these facts aand will continue to support their chosen candidate blindly. I bet that these people voted for their corrupt leaders in the past, and now wailing for reform one after the other. ” Those who do not learn from the past will be doomed to repeat it in the future”.

  3. whatever you say, we want change in the goverment.. We’ll vote for Duterte.
    Stop corruption and put the culprits behind bars.

  4. This Senator is speaking totaly rubbish, pure nonsense if you ask me.
    Facts Senator:: the Salary of the President of the United States is 450,000.00 yet Presidential candidates begining with President obama raised and spend over a billion us dollars for elections, are they corrupt too??
    In Britian Prime Minister David Cameron spend a walloping 400,000,000.00 euroes is he corrupt too??
    The New Canadian Prime Minister Liberal Party spend over cdn$600 Million is ge corrupt too??
    what you failed to realize elections campaign has become an expensive venture where television and radio station are demanding money up front to air adds.
    Case in Point, Donald Trump has stated he is prepares to spend over one billion dollar for elections campaign if he becomes President may I inform you he will be taking a pay cut, he currently earns a salary of over one million dollard and he would be earning half this if elected, is he corrupt too.
    i beleive these kind of statements are coming from politicans who want to score cheap politcals points and thereby beleiving the fillipino people are stupid, Has anyone made point of asking this Senator how much She spend on her campaign??

  5. Really hope that the people can see the one candidate running for president that is not corrupt and will won’t owe huge favors to the richest 1% like it seems the 4 others already owe.

    Santiago is the only candidate that will end the pork barrel fund and not allow the thieves currently stinking up Congress to get away with all their misdeeds.

    Don’t think the voters have enough sense to vote for what’s best for the country given the vote selling even providing Smartmatic doesn’t repeat their Hocus Pocus B.S. Aquino and the Liberal Party 60-30-10 B.S.