|Manny Pacquiao endorsing PBA party-list in a television ad. (Picture grabbed from Youtube.com)
MANILA, Philippines – Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA), the party-list of boxing champion and Sarangani congressman-elect Manny Pacquiao, was the top spender among party-list groups in the last elections.
PBA, whose chairman is Pacquiao, spent P80 million on television, radio and print ads.
According to the group Pera’t Pulitika (PAP), the “exorbitant” spending of such party-list groups runs counter to their claim of representing marginalized sectors.
“Karamihan sa kanila, hindi naman natin sinasabing lahat, ay mukhang may pera. P’wde sila magbayad ng mahal na political ads… O, kaya nyo pala eh. Bakit pa kayo naga-aspire for party-list? Nakakabahala ‘yun sapagkat ito dapat ay para doon sa walang representasyon, sana ‘yung mga mahihirap,” said Gladstone Cuarteros, a convener of PAP.
PBA party-list founder Dino Chua, meanwhile, said that although they spent a big amount during the campaign, it does not mean they cannot represent marginalized groups.
Chua added their campaign funds were from contributors, including Pacquiao, who believed in their cause.
“Napakarami nating atletang Pinoy na nagdala ng magandang imahe sa ating bansa na ngayon napapabayaan na. Nagkataon lang na maraming naniniwala sa ipinaglalaban natin kaya maraming sumusuporta,” he said.
Party-list groups spent more on advertising than local candidates did in the 2010 elections. These groups spent a total of P597 million, while all local candidates' expenditures totaled P162 million, according to AGB Nielsen data. (Click here for story.)
Nothing wrong if below spending limit
|Manny Pacquiao appearing in PBA party-list television ad. (Picture grabbed from Youtube.com)
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Law Department director Ferdinand Rafanan said there was nothing wrong with party-list spending for their campaigns as long as they did not exceed the limit under the election law.
“If they spent only P80 million or P50 million, that is way, way below what is allowed. Party-list groups are allowed to spend a maximum of P3 for every registered voter, so nationwide that is P150 million,” he said in an interview on ANC’s Primenews on Saturday.
There were 50 million registered voters for the May 10 elections.
The problem, he said, is not so much the exorbitant spending on political ads, but that some of the party-list nominees may not qualify to be part of the marginalized sector.
“We were recommending to the commission en banc the disqualification of so many [nominees] because they failed to comply with that requirement,” said Rafanan.
Initial party-list winners
The Comelec will proclaim on Monday the first 10 party-list groups that secured seats in Congress.
Ako Bicol Political Party - 1,522,986 votes
Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines - 1,292,182 votes
Buhay Hayaan Yumabong Party-list - 1,249,555 votes
Akbayan Citizen's Action Party - 1,058,691 votes
Gabriela Women's Party - 1,001,421 votes
Cooperative Natcco Network Party - 943,529 votes
1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy (1-CARE) - 768,829 votes
ABONO - 766,615 votes
Bayan Muna - 746,019 votes
An Waray - 711,631 votes
With a report from Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News