IN POLITICS as in the movies, it seems it pays to be the child of the so-called “kings.”
Four children born to veritable political royalty — in other parts called clans or dynasties — are now dominating the air war for votes in the May 2013 elections.
And amid the seemingly changeless picture of poverty in the land, the administration and opposition political parties and most of their candidates for senator are pouring buckets of money on political advertisements on television, radio, and the newspapers. Indeed, the total value of these ads has already gone beyond the P1-billion mark, and will certainly just keep on rising.
As of last April 10, P1,320,116,506.81 worth of political ads had already been aired, published, and booked for and by 21 of the 33 senatorial candidates, and 20 political parties and party-list groups.
A total of 287 advertising contracts and telecast orders for a total of 41 candidates and political parties had so far been submitted by print and broadcast media agencies, as required by law, to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
By cluster, the ads aired and/or booked for the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition and six of its nine senatorial candidates had reached P587,593,483.02, or nearly P100 million less than the P682,898,916.87 ads that had been procured by administration Team PNoy and its 12 candidates.
Media agencies had been twice required to submit to the Comelec advertising contracts sealed with the candidates and the political parties. The first report covered the first month of the campaign period, Feb. 12 to March 11, 2013; and the second, the second month, March 12 to April 10, 2013.
Not all the advertising contracts submitted to Comelec were clear if the amounts were gross amounts or net of taxes, however. By all indications, too, not all the media agencies have submitted all the advertising contracts that they had signed with all the candidates and the political parties.
For this report, PCIJ encoded the gross amount (“contract cost”) when this appeared in the documents, inclusive of value-added tax and withholding tax. For documents without a breakdown of gross and net costs of the ads, PCIJ encoded the available amount indicated.
The documents showed that the ads were either booked by and for the candidates and the political parties through their advertising agents, or booked by and for them by certain donors.
The top 10 ad buyers account for a hefty P 917,337,764.22 or 69 percent of the total ad buys during the period.
They include the children of UNA’s “Three Kings” — Juan ‘Jack’ C. Ponce Enrile Jr., Joseph Victor ‘JV’ G. Ejercito, and Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay — and the daughter of ‘Da King’ of Philippine movies, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who is with Team PNoy.
Also on the list are those born to relatively new and old political clans such as Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara Jr., Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Ma. Ana Consuelo ‘Jamby’ A. Madrigal, and Paolo Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino IV.
The UNA coalition and three of its nine candidates for senator — all children of the opposition’s “Three Kings,” dominated the ad-buys pie for the first two months of the campaign.
The list of 41 ad spenders (candidates, party-list groups, political parties) during the same period ranked Cagayan Representative Jack Ponce Enrile, only son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, number one with P151.2 million worth of ads aired and booked.
San Juan Representative JV Ejercito, son of deposed President Joseph Ejercito Estrada by re-electionist San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez, landed in No. 2 with P137.1 million.
The opposition coalition UNA came in at No. 3 with P120.3 million in political ads, including TV spots booked for airing until May 11, 2013, the last day of the campaign.
At fifth spot is newbie candidate Nancy Binay, daughter of Vice President Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay. Documents showed Nancy Binay as having P82.8 million in ads aired and booked during the period.
Senator Enrile, ex-President Estrada, and Vice President Binay, the supposed three Magi of UNA, had even graced UNA’s political ads that aired for an extended period in the first weeks of the campaign.
No ads for others
In contrast to the record being set by the children of the “Three Kings,” three other UNA candidates for senator did not have any political ads aired or published yet, at least according to the records as of last April 15, in the first two months of the campaign.
The ads have-nots from UNA’s stable are former Tarlac governor Margarita ‘Tingting’ Coajuangco, Zambales Rep. Milagros ‘Mitos’ Magsaysay, and re-electionist senator Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan.
Unlike the “have ads, and have no ads” picture of the UNA candidates, all 12 senatorial aspirants of the Team PNoy coalition led by President Benigno S. Aquino III had ads aired and booked in their favor.
Of Team PNoy’s candidates, Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara is the top spender on political ads, with P85.52 million ads aired and booked, while the bottom spender is re-electionist senator Antonio ‘Sonny’ Trillanes IV, with P12.41 million.
Nonetheless, Trillanes ranked 18th on the list of 41 candidates, party-list groups, and political parties that had aired or booked ads for the first 60 days of the 90-day campaign period for national candidates, according to the documents.
Meanwhile, adopted LP candidate Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr., ‘Da King’ of action movies, came in as the sixth biggest spender on ads. The records submitted to Comelec by media agencies showed Poe-Llamanzares as having aired and booked ads worth P74.7 million as of April 10, 2013.
President Aquino’s Liberal Party, for its part, aired and booked another P68.43 million of political ads during the period, featuring all its 12 candidates. The amount largely covered the airing of Team PNoy’s ad showing the candidates marching seemingly in place on summons of the President.
Villar ranks low?
Former Las Piñas representative Cynthia A. Villar, wife of outgoing senator Manuel B. Villar — the biggest spender on political ads in the May 2010 presidential elections and the wealthiest of the 23 incumbent senators — landed in a surprisingly low spot on the list of 41 ad spenders: No. 16.
Cynthia Villar’s political ads totaled only P32.7 million, based on the records submitted to Comelec. It seemed, though, that this relatively modest amount got a supplemental boost from another P32.99 million in ads that the Nacionalista Party purchased during the same period.
Chaired by her husband Senator Villar, the NP aired the “Hanep” ad material that featured Cynthia Villar.
Another NP stalwart, re-electionist senator Alan Peter Cayetano, had aired and booked a hefty P74.49 million of ads for himself, the documents showed.
Completing the Top 10 list of political ad buyers from Feb. 19 to April 15, 2013 are three LP candidates: former senator Jamby Madrigal with P66.7 million of ads aired and booked; the President’s first cousin Bam Aquino, P56.24 million; and re-electionist senator Loren Regina B. Legarda, P46.95 million.
Curiously, some supposedly cash-poor candidates have outranked some supposedly cash-rich candidates.
Former Akbayan party list representative Ana Theresa ‘Risa’ Hontiveros had P31.80 million worth of ads aired and booked for and in her name during the period, compared with much smaller ad buys by four candidates who had served as senators — Juan Miguel ‘Migs’ Zubiri, P28.43 million; Aquilino Martin ‘Koko’ Pimentel III, P27.49 million; Ernesto M. Maceda, P22.19 million; and Trillanes, P12.41 million.
Even former Bayan Muna representative Teodoro ‘Teddy’ A. Casino, who is literally “running” across the nation on an avowed tight budget, incurred P8.69 million worth of aired and booked ads, or more than double the P3.81-million ad spend of outgoing Palawan governor Edward S. Hagedorn, according to the documents. — With research by Karol Ilagan. Rowena F. Caronan, Charmaine Manay, Rosemarie Corpin, and Edz dela Cruz, PCIJ, April 2013