After air wars, Villar dominates ground war
By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manuel “Manny” Villar, who dominated the air wars, also rules the ground war in terms of campaign propaganda expenditures among the top four presidential candidates in the May 10 elections, according to a consortium monitoring their campaign expenses.
In a press briefing, Pera’t Pulitika-Consortium on Electoral Reforms (PAP-CER) said that since the campaign kicked off on Feb. 9 until March 29, Villar spent P889,378.40 in propaganda materials in 10 key cities.
Trailing behind were Liberal Party (LP) candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III with P715,258.50, Lakas-Kampi candidate Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro with P669,240.20 and Puwersa ng Masa candidate Joseph “Erap” Estrada with P97,894.90.
The consortium said the propaganda materials used were posters (made of plastic), billboards, pamphlets, stickers and pocket calendars.
The monitored areas were: Quezon City, Baguio City, San Fernando in Pampanga, Lucena City and Legazpi City in Luzon; Iloilo and Cebu Cities in the Visayas; and Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Davao Cities in Mindanao.
Aquino posted the highest expenditures during the first week of the campaign because of political ads plastered on public utility buses during the period.
However, Villar’s expenses soared in the third week because he, too, placed ads on buses.
Teodoro, on the other hand, increased his expenses for campaign materials on weeks 3 and 4 when the color green started to mushroom along the streets of Quezon City.
For his part, Estrada maintained a pattern of spending less on propaganda materials, which seemed to confirm his earlier complaint that financial resources weren’t coming in, according to Prof. Gladstone Cuarteros, a member of the PAP-CER and a professor of political science at the De La Salle University.
Cuarteros said the consortium focused its efforts on the four candidates deemed to have the capability to spend at the maximum.
The Fair Elections Act of 2001 provides for the use of propaganda materials and has identified the lawful items. PAP-CER, however, focused on all receipted items, regardless if materials used were lawful or not or if they were outside the allowable size.
According to Cuarteros, the 2010 presidential campaign is characterized by the battle of colors—yellow for Aquino, orange for Villar, orange and blue for Estrada, and green for Teodoro.
He noted at least three innovations in the campaign: baller ID band bracelets carrying the candidate’s name and logo, lanterns and propaganda materials on buses.
The Aquino camp came up with lanterns that look like the single-loop yellow ribbons, while Villar dotted the city with lanterns that look like his signature orange checks. The consortium noted that buses suddenly became a popular mobile campaigner for the candidates despite its cost ranging from P5,000-P15,000 per month per bus unit.
To date, nine bus lines carry political ads of three presidential candidates. Comelec has no existing rules on this until now.
JFT Bus Precious Grace, Rainbow Express, and Jam Transit carry the ads of Villar; Mayamy Vus, Universal Guiding Angel and Taguig Metro Link carry ads of Aquino; Victory Liner, Villar and Aquino; Jayross Lucky Seven carry ads of Aquino and Teodoro.
As far as the 10 cities are concerned, Aquino had the highest expenditures on public meetings at P2,499,743.30, while Villar spent P1,169,164 on meetings, Teodoro, P1,261,100 and Estrada, P692,000.
The PAP-CER also said Tuesday that the four candidates could have spent more than the allowable limit on big events during the monitoring period.
These included the Edsa celebration at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City (Feb. 25) by Aquino; the series of Rockatropa-Wowowee at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City (Feb. 25), in Cabanatuan City (March 14), in Lucena City (March 21), and in Naga City (March 27) by Villar; the kick-off of Teodoro’s campaign at the Yñares Center (Feb. 9); and the kick-off of Estrada’s campaign at the Plaza Miranda (Feb. 9).