Party-list groups spent more on ads than bets in 10 cities

By Maki Somosot,

Posted at May 27 2010 11:09 PM | Updated as of May 28 2010 07:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines--Party-list groups spent more on advertising than local candidates did in the 2010 elections. The groups spent a total of P597 million while all local candidates' expenditure totaled P162 million, according to AGB Nielsen data.

The numbers were presented at a press conference Thursday by the Pera't Pulitika (PAP), a network of non-government groups that monitored campaign spending.

The party-list groups, which are supposedly representing and coming from “marginalized” sectors, advertised aggressively on national television. Thirteen party-list groups also shared ads with various presidential candidates.

Party-lists like 1-CARE, A TEACHER, ABC, and YACAP that did not advertise at all were certain of getting seats in Congress.

KALINGA, ABS, ATING-COOP, and 1-ANG PAMILYA--which spent more than P500,000 on average for their respective party list advertising--were also assured of representation.

PAP members said that this is quite unusual.

“Since party-list groups represent marginalized sectors of society, they might not have that much money to sustain a campaign on the airwaves,” Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) executive director Malou Mangahas said.

“I’d like to know where their money for advertising is coming from,” Mangahas added.

A number of party-list groups carried presidential candidates in their ads.

On May 8 alone, the last day of campaigning for both local and national posts, party-list groups carrying national candidates in their advertising recorded a total airtime of 219.75 minutes in different television networks.

May 8 airtime of party-list groups

Buhay Party list / Manuel Villar 36
Butil Party list / Manuel Villar 61.5
PBA Party list / Manuel Villar 28
Akbayan Party list / Benigno Aquino III 1.5
Bagong Henerasyon Party list / Benigno Aquino III 1
PEP Party list / Manuel Roxas II 9.5
Akbayan Party list / Aquino-Roxas 13.25
PEP Party list / Aquino-Roxas 10.75
Kaakbay / Aquino-Roxas 58.25
TOTAL 219.75

Source: PAP, AGB Nielsen

Most expensive national elections

The group maintained that the 2010 elections became the most expensive. National candidates splurged a total of P4.3 billion on advertising, based on the Nielsen data. The amount makes up 29% of the total P15-billion estimated expenditure for this year's elections.

“The government will stand to gain approximately P517.3 million in EVAT (Extended Value Added Tax) revenues from the total campaign spending, if the media agencies will remit them to the government,” Che de los Reyes of the PCIJ said.

The National Economic Development Authority predicts that this will contribute 0.34 percentage points to total GDP growth in 2010.

Nature of ground war

The candidates also held numerous public meetings, which emphasized “entertainment” and “festive spirit,” fostered by the presence of celebrities who helped “mobilize the crowd,” says Gladstone Cuarteros of the Consortium of Electoral Reforms (CER).

Cuarteros said that practically all the candidates followed a “conventional way” of campaigning expenditure.

“They started high, lessened spending in the middle, and then the final push came in the last month,” he said.

Based on their data, the PaP asserted that excessive spending on campaign advertising does not guarantee victory.

Ten cities--namely, Quezon City, Cebu, Baguio, San Fernando, Lucena, Legaspi, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Davao--were monitored by the the CER for their ground work because these provinces have high voting populations.

Cebu City was isolated as the top city in which the 4 presidential candidates poured the majority of their money.

Villar still top spender

Among the four presidential contenders, Senator Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. was the big spender who devoted approximately P750 million to advertising.

He sustained the highest spending on propaganda materials, and splurged the most money in the 10 identified cities. He was also the only one who “consistently increased spending” over the election period, according to Cuarteros.

But Villar still finished 3rd in the presidential race, following Joseph “Erap” Estrada who only spent P190 million, a third of Villar’s overall expenditure.

Leading presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III was the 2nd highest spender on advertising, after allocating P512 million.

Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, No. 1 in the partial tally for vice president, spent P167 million on unique ads. Unique ads advertise the candidate only on his or her own, compared to joint ads which show the candidate with either a presidential or vice-presidential running mate, or a supporting party-list group.

Binay’s expenditure is the lowest compared to his 2 main opponents, Senators Manuel “Mar” Roxas and Loren Legarda.

Roxas, 2nd in the tally of votes, spent P204.5 million on ads, while Legarda, 3rd in the tally, spent P180 million. (