MANILA –– The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) reported on Thursday that national candidates in the recently held elections spent an average of 211 million pesos per day on mainstream media advertisements during the 90-year campaign period. days.
It has prompted supporters to push for reforms in what they say is the country’s “outdated” campaign finance law.
CPIJ editorial director Karol Ilagan said his report was based on data provided by market research firm Nielsen Ad Intel, which monitored candidates’ airtime before and during the campaign period.
Ilagan said their numbers are based on established rate cards, so “the actual amount could be lower” if discounts were actually given to contestants by media entities.
The PCIJ stressed that it is necessary for the data of contractors or media companies to be disclosed.
Former Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Mark Villar, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and Senator Joel Villanueva each logged more than a billion pesos in ads during the 90-day campaign period from 8 February to May 7:
- Leni Robredo: P1 149 091 415
- Marc Villar: 1,134,385,000 pesos
- Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.: P1 097 522 180
- Joel Villanueva: P1 047 097 778
Former Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso nearly exceeded 1 billion pesos, spending on advertisements worth 966.50 million pesos.
Among the presidential candidates, Robredo spent the most on advertising during the campaign period (1.15 billion pesos), followed by Marcos (1.10 billion pesos), Domagoso (966.50 million pesos), Manny Pacquiao (78 million pesos) and Panfilo “Ping”. Lacson (43.73 million pesos).
Among the vice presidential candidates, Vice President Sara Duterte spent the most with 683.81 million pesos, followed by former Senate President Tito Sotto (665.37 million pesos) and former Senator Francis Pangilinan (543.70 million pesos).
Robredo and Pangilinan spent the most on tandem ads during the campaign period, followed by Lacson-Sotto, Marcos-Duterte and Pacquiao-Atienza.
The top 15 ad spenders among Senate candidates during the campaign period are:
- Villar (1.13 billion pula)
- Villanueva (1.05 billion pula)
- Richard Gordon (891.08 million pesos)
- Alan Peter Cayetano (801.46 million pula)
- Jinggoy Estrada (799.69 million pula)
- Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri (763.03 million pula)
- Loren Legarda (757.90 million pesos)
- Jejomar Binay (697.55 million)
- Sherwin Gatchalian (662.16 million pula)
- Harry Castling (P623.86 million)
- Risa Hontiveros (562.30 million pula)
- JV Ejercito (P632.82 million)
- Chiz Escudero (514.17 million pula)
- Raffy Tulfo (323.52 million pesos)
- Robin Padilla (263.69 million pesos)
Meanwhile, five candidates exceeded spending by 2 billion pesos when advertisements that appeared before the official campaign period were added to the calculation.
- Joel Villanueva: P2 775 878 768
- Marc Villar: P2 770 045 914
- Alan Peter Cayetano: P2 281 374 623
- Leni Robredo: P2 186 472 860
- Isko Moreno Domagoso: P2 019 466 437
Former Commissioner of the Electoral Commission (Comelec), Luie Tito Guia, said massive spending by candidates in the 2022 elections should be a “wake-up call” to push for political and administrative reform to level the playing field by adjusting spending limits to a “more reasonable level” and capping campaign donations.
He said campaign finance is also a governance and anti-corruption issue, noting that political donations can impact policy-making and give rise to potential conflicts of interest.
“We don’t want money to dictate electoral choices,” Guia said.
Comelec has not yet made public the complete copy of the declarations of expenses and electoral contributions (SOCE) of the candidates, which include the donors of the candidates. The polling organization published only the part containing a summary of total expenses and contributions received.
Guia said applicants should explain why their SOCEs showed much lower amounts compared to Nielsen’s data.
“We want to have a transparent campaign finance report. I think it’s more important than the spending limit in a way, because I have the enthusiasm to take care of it, but also have no working capital,” Guia said.
(We want to have a transparent campaign finance report. I think that’s more important than the spending limit in a way because you want it written down and the public knowing who is funding the candidates.)
Based on SOCE alone, Marcos spent the most of all the candidates, declaring expenses totaling more than 623 million pula, believed to have been entirely paid for by cash and in-kind contributions.
CPJI’s Ilagan said it would be helpful if Comelec also released the contractors’ report to see if the candidates’ spending reports matched.
“If you get that, dapat if you add that up, dapat mag-match siya in kandidato’s statement in kanyang SOCE. In fact, ‘yun nga, it takes a village for contractors and suppliers to prove their reports to Comelec” , Ilagan said.
(If you get that, if you add that up, it should match what the candidate said in their SOCE. In fact, that’s the problem, it takes a village because all the contractors and suppliers would prove their reports to Comelec. )
“So medyo may find it difficult to talaga doon. Perhaps one thing to highlight is also trying to have SOCEs readily available and accessible right in the noong mga SOCE of our candidates,” he said. she adds.
(So there is a bit of difficulty. Maybe one thing to also point out is to try to make SOCEs easily available and accessible, because right now SOCEs have been submitted for a long time, but up to now no one has access to the full candidate SOCEs.)
Legal Network for Truth in Elections (LENTE) executive director Rona Ann Caritos said it’s time to revise the definition of “candidate” to include time since a certificate of candidacy was filed.
It also undertakes to cap contributions.
“When we talk about campaign finance, a good principle to keep in mind is that of a level playing field. They think they are candidates when they run for office… What we’ve seen from the data is that it’s not a level playing field. If you are a wealthy candidate, you have the advantage. Pero kung mahirap ka at wala kang pera, luging-lugi ka talaga,” Caritos said.
(When talking about campaign finance, a good principle to keep in mind is equal opportunity. We must ensure a level playing field between candidates when they stand for election… What we have seen from the data is that it’s not a fair game If you are a wealthy candidate you have the advantage but if you are poor and have no money you are at a disadvantage .)
On social media, Robredo had the most ads on Facebook, although the majority of ads were paid for by his followers on the platform with 58.75 million pesos spent on promotion during the period of 90-day campaign, based on Facebook’s ad library. .
Of this amount, only 11 million pesos worth of ads were posted on its official pages, according to the PCIJ.
Lacson’s official page topped Facebook ad spending among presidential candidates, spending 12.67 million pesos while his supporters paid an additional 4.96 million pesos.
Domagoso spent around 27.79 million pesos on Facebook ads, paid almost entirely by its supporters.
Marcos’ official page featured ads worth 2.02 million pesos on Facebook while his followers paid for ads worth 44,504 pesos. Vice President Sara Duterte recorded no spending on social media while supporters paid for ads worth 57,866 pesos.
––With a report by Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News