Villar dares TV, radio to disclose earnings from political ads
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star
DAVAO CITY , Philippines – Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential bet Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. yesterday challenged television and radio broadcast firms to make public their actual earnings from airing political advertisements.
Villar, a billionaire real estate developer turned politician, lamented what he called “exorbitant” airtime rates being charged by broadcast firms from candidates.
“On ad spending, I am following what is in the Fair Elections Act. As far as I am concerned, the figures shown are not the actual figures, they are the published rates and there are discounted rates,” he said.
Villar said the high airtime rates are costing him so much in the campaign.
Villar made the statement as he received criticisms from major TV and radio networks.
NP spokesman Gilbert Remulla agreed that he too is having difficulty putting out campaign ads because of the high rates, a concern also raised by fellow NP senatorial candidates Adel Tamano and Gwen Pimentel.
Even as Villar is getting flak for spending millions in political ads, Remulla conceded TV and radio campaign advertisements are an advantage over their competitors.
Remulla said NP candidates would be pooling their resources to come up with a TV ad that would feature all senatorial bets under the NP slate.
Sources said a number of major radio stations have also been offering campaign packages to candidates who want to have “special coverages” for a fee.
Under the special coverage scheme, the broadcast firm will assign a reporter to cover the candidate with an assurance that all his or her campaign sorties would be aired exclusively.
Villar has had 120 minutes of television ads during the 22-day period from Feb. 9.
Out of the 120 minutes, ABS-CBN accounted for 60 minutes, while GMA-7 got a share of 50 minutes, with other networks sharing a total of 10 minutes airtime.
Prior to the Feb. 9 campaign period, Villar used a total of 1,050 minutes divided between ABS-CBN (465 minutes); GMA-7 (414 minutes); TV 5 (39 minutes) and 132 minutes on various radio stations and publications.
The latest report of Pera’t Pulitika (PaP) 2010 released last Thursday showed Villar is still the top spender among presidential candidates.
Villar spent a whopping P120,411,093 from Feb. 9, the start of the election campaign, up to March 2 in the placement of campaign advertisements in print and television.
The ads include a total of 195.25 minutes of airtime on television in the 22-day period.
Interviewed over dzBB’s presidential forum, Villar admitted spending a lot for his campaign advertisements but stressed there was nothing wrong with it.
“I am not an actor, I’m not a celebrity, I have no father who was a president or mother who was a president. This is the only way for me to be recognized by our people. This is not illegal and I worked hard for this money,” he said.
Villar, meanwhile, called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to get its education campaign on automated elections on the road for tens of thousands of overseas voters.
With a little over a month before overseas absentee voters start casting their votes, Villar said time is running out for the Comelec to implement the plan.
“Many (overseas Filipino workers) report to us that they still have no idea how to use the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, and this is alarming,” he said.
Overseas absentee voters have a month to cast their votes starting April 10.