Fair Elections Act

Quezon City court won't stop poll surveys

Quezon City court won’t stop poll surveys
By Reinir Padua
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Citing lack of jurisdiction, a Quezon City court denied yesterday a petition of Bagumbayan Party standard-bearer Sen. Richard Gordon for a temporary restraining order to stop the release of survey results on presidential candidates by pollsters Social Weather Stations (SWS) Inc. and Pulse Asia Inc.

Judge Bayani Vargas of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 219 said it is the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that should determine whether the conduct and publication of surveys on voters’ preference violate the Fair Election Act.

“Considering that the authority to enforce and implement the said law pertains to the Comelec, to the court’s mind, the jurisdiction to rule on the issue brought before this court also belongs to the said body,” said the three-page order dated April 30.

The court canceled the scheduled hearing yesterday afternoon.

The court, however, said Gordon’s filing for P650,000 damages because the surveys had allegedly prejudiced his campaign, falls under its jurisdiction.

“In action for the damages, the amount of claim shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of the court. In this case, the amount involved puts this action clearly within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court pursuant to Section 19(8) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 as amended by Republic Act 7691,” the order said.

SWS and Pulse Asia have argued before the court that the petition to ban the conduct and publication of the election surveys falls under the jurisdiction of the Comelec.

Gordon, who ranks fifth in the surveys, earlier filed the complaint, citing alleged misleading surveys that use “obsolete methodologies.”

His complaint stated that the surveys have reduced the elections into a popularity contest with the survey results purportedly conditioning the minds of voters to favor candidates based on what surveys say and not based on platform.

The court said, “The jurisdiction of the court over the other primary cause of action which is injunction is highly doubtful.”

It also cited that even if it had jurisdiction over the injunctive sought by Gordon, it would still be “constrained to deny the same” because of the Supreme Court (SC) ruling in May 2001 that invalidated provisions of the Fair Election Act that imposed a ban on survey results.

The SC ruling said that such a ban would impose a prior restraint on the freedom of expression.

“In light of this jurisprudence, the court is convinced that it will be an exercise in futility to still proceed with the hearing to determine whether the conduct of surveys and publication thereof may be barred, since this issue has already been settled by no less than the Supreme Court,” the order said.

Gordon said yesterday he would file a motion for reconsideration before the Quezon City RTC.

Christian Diaz, head of Gordon’s legal team, said they would file the motion for reconsideration because they have a valid ground to ask for the issuance of the TRO.

Diaz said the TRO they are asking for is linked to the P650,000 civil case against pollsters SWS and Pulse Asia.

He said the Quezon City RTC violated a rule of court when it treated the petition for the issuance of the TRO as a separate cause of action from the civil case.

“It is illegal to split causes of action,” he said.

While the RTC has denied their petition for the issuance of a TRO, Diaz said they have not lost the case since the court will continue to hear the damage suit.

Diaz said the case has yet to reach its pre-trial stage as SWS and Pulse Asia still have to submit their respective affidavits.

“We are not questioning state regulation in this case. This is an action by a private individual against another private individual,” Diaz said.

Gordon said he is also asking for a TRO against SWS and Pulse Asia to prevent them from conducting more pre-election surveys as these are “conditioning the minds of voters.”

“We asked for a TRO on all surveys. It is robbing the people of their right to be able to engage in a mental exercise where they can gauge their candidate’s capability,” he said.

“It is mental conditioning in no uncertain terms and serves no public purpose that is useful except to try and get more money for the candidates to pay for the surveys who are now leading,” he added.

If he wins the case, Gordon said the P600,000 will be donated to the Philippine National Red Cross while P50,000 will pay for attorney’s fees. – With Mike Frialde

PMP bets vow review of flawed laws

PMP bets vow review of flawed laws
By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial candidates of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), led by Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, vowed yesterday to review the controversial Oil Deregulation Law, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and the Fair Election Act if they win in the May 10 elections.

Estrada told editors and reporters of The STAR that if re-elected, he would file a resolution to review the EPIRA and Oil Deregulation Law.

“These (laws) have to be studied. This is a very sensitive issue. I will manifest, once I win, to revisit the two laws,” Estrada said.

Estrada chided President Arroyo for appointing former secretary Angelo Reyes to the Department of Energy (DOE).

“GMA (President Arroyo) should not have appointed Reyes. I think he is not an expert on energy. She should have chosen someone with wide knowledge on energy. Reyes should have also declined his appointment as energy chief. Only I and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, among the members of the Commission on Appointments, objected to Reyes’ appointment before the CA. Maybe, Reyes had talked to other members of the CA,” Estrada said.

Estrada said he has also sponsored a bill seeking to amend the EPIRA co-authored by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, his party mate.

“I forgot the particular amendments. I don’t know if the House also passed a counterpart bill. Maybe in the next Congress, I will push for it again,” Estrada said.

Former Negros Occidental Rep. Apolinario “Jun” Lozada said the Oil Deregulation Law is everybody’s concern.

He said good laws are useless if the one heading the agency to implement such law is not good.

Lozada said the Department of Energy (DOE) should reorganize following the power crisis in Mindanao.

“There must be a reorganization of the DOE from top to bottom. Who really is the energy czar of the country? Not only the EPIRA, but also the Charter of the DOE (has to be restudied). Who really calls the shots? There is the PNOC (Philippine National Oil Company), the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), and DOE. The law by itself has to be reviewed. Unless the people knew what they are doing,” Lozada said.

Lozada said the present difficulties facing the country showed that the power crisis in Mindanao had already affected Metro Manila where residents have complained of increased power rates.

Former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad said the main purpose of the EPIRA is to encourage competition to lower power rates.

“It did not encourage competition and it makes the government powerless. There is a cartel among big oil companies. Cartel could drive away investors. It’s time to revisit it particularly in the face of the power crisis,” Tatad said.

Lawyer JV Bautista said the government must have full control of the industry to protect the people from greedy businessmen whose only objective is to gain more from their profit at the expense of the poverty-ridden Filipinos.

“We have an energy secretary lawyering for oil companies. Reyes, for not being able to do anything on the series of oil prices increases, said it’s deregulated. The state, during the Marcos regime, was able to control the prices of oil because he created Petron. It subsidized the oil industry and competed with privately owned oil companies. Why is it that every time there is an increase in oil products, the increases are not impeded, but when there is a decrease in oil prices, it’s not decreasing, NEDA says there is a decrease in oil, but DOE says there is none,” Bautista said.

Fair election act

On the issue of the Fair Election Act, Estrada said there are candidates who are now circumventing the law.

“They are using the party-list (groups) to have themselves included in the political advertisements. I’m in favor of revisiting the Fair Election Act,” Estrada said.

Estrada said the PMP has spent way below the allowed amount for the campaign.

He said the Fair Election Act was created out of the insecurity of politicians who cannot equal the wide publicity that movie actors-turned politicians like him are getting from media.

“Actors like me, who turned politicians, do not need political ads because the people are seeing us almost once in a while on television and in the movies,” Estrada said.

Tatad said there must be a complete ban on political ads.

He said candidates must not spend more than what they will earn legally once they win.

“If the candidates spent billions during the campaign, how will they recoup that once they win? We will need real electoral reform, not on the 11th hour… Who undergo the survey? What post the margin of error, etc. etc,” Tatad said.

Tatad said he wrote the Commission on Elections to enforce the provisions of Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act on Pulse Asia, Social Weather Station (SWS) and other poll survey firms on their conduct and publication of survey results during the current campaign.

“I will be filing charges later. On our television ads, we should get 30 percent discount from TV ads, 10 percent from the print from the prevailing rates 12 months before the elections,” Tatad said.

Bautista agreed, saying that the Fair Election Act is turning into an “Unfair Election Act.”

“There must be electoral reforms. There should be no TV ads that are private. TV ads should be equal to all candidates. It’s not a matter of if I paid this much? The state must have a corresponding duty. Surveys should be regulated. If it has to be private, it should not be published. Mass media should not publicize it,” Bautista said.

Ang Kapatiran accepts ABS-CBN's apology

Ang Kapatiran accepts ABS-CBN’s apology
By Perseus Echeminada
Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) has accepted the letter of apology from television network ABS-CBN for not including its vice presidential bet in the March 21 episode of “Harapan: Vice Presidential Debate” held at La Consolacion College in Manila.

In a letter to AKP president Eric Manalang, Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, said it was not their intention to overlook the AKP and they are planning to invite them to other episodes of Harapan as well as other venues for the party’s message to reach the people.

“We assure AKP of our commitment to provide political parties fair time and space during the election period,” Ressa said in her letter, according to the AKP media bureau.

AKP vice presidential bet Dominador Chipeco Jr. said he has accepted the apology of the television network, and stressed that “excellence and fairness are great virtues and forgiveness is no less.”

AKP presidential candidate JC de los Reyes, for his part, said that fairness is among the most essential virtues in society that their party is advocating.

“We fought to uphold it, ABS-CBN rectified their mistake, let’s all move forward to give everybody their due, especially the Filipino people,” he said.

With the letter of apology, the AKP is also set to withdraw its complaint against ABS-CBN before the Commission on Elections for alleged selective coverage, which they claimed is a violation of Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act.

ABS-CBN corporate communications chief Bong Osorio earlier assured the AKP that they will continue the Harapan debate and will include the party in its future episodes.

“Just because they were not included in the earlier episode doesn’t mean they won’t be included in future episodes,” Osorio said

Nograles' departure from Lakas no big loss – Teodoro

Nograles’ departure from Lakas no big loss – Teodoro
By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star

CABANATUAN CITY , Philippines  – Administration standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro said Speaker Prospero Nograles’ decision to bolt the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD is no big loss to his presidential bid.

“It will not affect my presidential bid. He is not a big loss to us. Anyway, he has not been that eager to help me ever since,” Teodoro said yesterday.

Nograles confirmed yesterday that he is about to leave the administration Lakas-Kampi because it is “out of control” and in total disarray, “contrary to what is being bandied about in the media.”

Nograles, the party’s vice chairman, however, would not say if he is joining the Nacionalista Party (NP) or going independent, or when he is leaving the ruling party. He is running for mayor of Davao City.

Aside from Nograles, there are other party members who have bolted the party, like Lakas stalwart Mandaluyong Rep. Boyet Gonzales who joined the Liberal Party (LP).

Teodoro said Nograles has never been an ally in his presidential bid because in the first place he has never campaigned for him.

“I’ve been expecting it because I’ve been hearing reports about it since long ago,” Teodoro told reporters during a proclamation rally here.

Confused

In a statement, Nograles said he is deserting the ruling party because of so much confusion.

“We are still confused as to what is happening to our party. As a senior party officer, I do not know what’s happening because they make decisions without the courtesy of even briefing us. Now, what’s the use of being with the administration party,” Nograles said.

Two weeks ago, when Lakas-Kampi leaders met to elect their new chairman and president, Nograles said he was not even invited.

“I am a senior party member and a good soldier. I deserve some respect,” he added.

He lamented that what is “even more infuriating” is that seven of his campaign volunteers have died and the administration, particularly police and military officials in Davao City, is not doing anything about it.

Nograles claimed that these officials are under the influence of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a close friend of President Arroyo.

“They are killing our campaign volunteers and there is a clear and present threat on my life by the New People’s Army under Kumander Parago, but I’m not getting any help. It would be better that we do this all by ourselves than expect something that isn’t going to happen,” he said.

He pointed out that being the Lakas-Kampi mayoral candidate in Davao City, he is supposed “to get every help from the administration, even just for the protection of my campaign volunteers, but this cannot happen with the Dutertes controlling the security forces in Davao City.”

The Speaker also assailed the ruling party’s decision to designate Madeline “Bebot” Marfori, Mrs. Arroyo’s assistant for special projects, as its chief campaigner in Davao City.

“She is a supporter of the Dutertes, who are supporting the candidacy of Noynoy (Sen. Benigno Aquino III). Who are they trying to fool? I can only sympathize with Gibo because he is counting on people with interests other than to make him win,” he said.

He also has a complaint against Teodoro, who he said went to Davao City once without even informing him.

Teodoro, for his part, said that despite his closeness with Mayor Duterte, he never solicited his help to support him.

More defections

Compostela Valley Gov. Arthur Uy has also bolted the ruling Lakas-Kampi and joined the NP.

“I have resigned from Lakas because of the confusion in the party. I do not understand anymore what is going on in the party,” said Uy, who tendered his resignation last April 8.

Also yesterday, LP campaign manager Florencio Abad disclosed that Lakas member Rizal Gov. Casimiro “Junjun” Ynares has joined the opposition party.

Rep. Gonzales, who is running unopposed in the lone district, took his oath yesterday before LP standard-bearer Aquino at the LP headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.

“It is not easy to leave the party that did nothing wrong to me. But let me say that I am running unopposed and there is no need for me to change parties. But at the bottom of my heart, I am rooting for Noynoy and Sen. Mar Roxas,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, administration senatorial candidate lawyer Raul Lambino said the defection of party members only showed the true colors of these politicians, whom he described as traditional politicians who have no loyalty to the party but their own vested interests.

Meanwhile, former Surigao representative and Lakas senatorial campaign manager Prospero Pichay said they respect Nograles’ decision to leave.

“As a whole, the party remains steadfast behind the candidacies of Teodoro, Edu Manzano and our senatorial slate,” he said.

“The party owes a lot to Speaker Nograles. He is a good friend, former colleague and fellow Mindanaoan, so I am personally saddened by his decision.”

Palace to stem possible breakup

Malacañang moved yesterday to prevent a possible breakup of Lakas-Kampi following Speaker Nograles’ and other key allies in Congress’ decision to bolt the party.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said the administration was concerned over the reports because it would adversely affect the campaign of Teodoro, who is struggling in pre-election surveys with the elections less than a month away.

“Definitely, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD should do something about this (major defection). You know this is not the time for a major political party to break up just like that,” Mendoza told reporters at the Centennial Terminal after sending off President Arroyo.

“Not this time especially when the elections is less than a month away,” he said. “For the party, it should be a cause for concern.”

He said the hardest hit would be Teodoro and the rest of the ruling party’s national candidates, Manzano and the six senatorial candidates.

Mendoza said he has not talked with Mrs. Arroyo about the development.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said Lakas-Kampi and Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa have their “work cut out for them in terms of keeping the party together and solid and effective in the campaign.”

“We continue to believe that Teodoro is the best man for the job and we continue to believe that he deserves the wholehearted support of his party mates,” Olivar told a news briefing.

He said it was not yet clear whether the President, who is president emeritus of the party, would intervene as she remains focused on governance.

“As a practical matter, she intervenes only on what we can call presidential moments or presidential occasions when the President needs to intervene in party issues,” he said.

Dimaporos for Gibo

Meanwhile, in Lanao del Norte, the powerful and influential Dimaporo clan in the province vowed to support Teodoro’s presidential bid.

During a rally, Lanao del Norte second district Rep. Abdullah “Bobby” Dimaporo said he and his family decided to stick it out with Teodoro because he is the best among the presidential bets in the country today.

Meanwhile, the Nacionalista Party welcomed yesterday reports that Nograles and at least 30 congressmen are joining the NP camp.

NP senatorial candidate and spokesman Gilbert Remulla said Nograles and his allies’ move “may be the most viable option” for them because Davao Mayor Duterte – known political enemy of Nograles – has openly supported the presidential bid of LP’s Aquino.

Even without official confirmation from the NP camp, Nograles’ move is forthcoming because Villar and his partymates have been going to Davao a number of times, purportedly to get local support.

The NP now enjoys the support of Davao del Sur first district Rep. Douglas Cagas. The NP is also preparing to stage a Rockatropa-Wowowillie-cum-political rally this coming week.

Another NP senatorial bet, Adel Tamano, said the big possibility that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will approve coalition of the NP and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and award it the dominant minority status could be major reasons why most local candidates are shifting alliances to the NP.

“The possible reason why other groups might want to join the NP is because of the NP-NPC coalition. Since this has already been given legal status, we’re just a step away from being declared the dominant minority party,” Tamano said.

According to Tamano, the declaration of dominant minority party under the Fair Elections Act would allow the party to get a copy of the election returns and an individual server.

National candidates can monitor and guard their votes by gaining immediate access to certificates of canvass at the provincial, municipal and city levels.

“For the local candidates, the ERs are very, very important. But once the NP-NPC coalition gets the dominant minority status, that is an additional incentive why local parties will want to join us,” Tamano said. – With Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Perseus Echeminada, Edith Regalado, Jun Elias, Delon Porcalla, Christina Mendez

Kapatiran files complaint vs ABS-CBN

Kapatiran files complaint vs ABS-CBN
By Sheila Crisostomo
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) yesterday sought to penalize the ABS-CBN broadcasting network for alleged discrimination in their coverage of candidates.

AKP president Eric Manalang filed a petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) accusing ABS-CBN of violating the Fair Elections Act in discriminating against party vice presidential candidate Dominador Chipeco Jr.

Manalang filed the complaint before Comelec Law Department director Ferdinand Rafanan, pointing out that ABS-CBN deliberately excluded Chipeco from a vice presidential debate they had organized.

“We had noticed that ABS-CBN, during the course of its coverage of our party’s campaign activities for public information, is being selective and at times outright discriminating against the Ang Kapatiran and its candidates,” Manalang said.

Manalang said the AKP was forced to file the complaint following the incident which, he said, resulted in many of their members, candidates and supporters being “disturbed” by the events.

“We take legal action against this continuing unfairness. Some had even lost interest to continue supporting us,” Manalang said.

Manalang submitted a letter addressed to Maria Ressa, managing director of ABS-CBN News Channel, requesting her action on the exclusion of Chipeco in the forum last March 21.

“Our demand for rectification, public correction and a formal reply was ignored. Again we felt discriminated against,” he said.

ABS-CBN corporate communications chief Bong Osorio, on the other hand, said they cannot issue a statement since they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint.

“We have not received a copy of the complaint so we cannot issue any reaction. Rest assured that ABS-CBN will continue the ‘Harapan’ series of debates. Just because they were not included doesn’t mean they won’t be included in the future,” Osorio said.

Earlier, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) vice presidential candidate Jay Sonza filed a complaint before the Comelec accusing ABS-CBN of violating the Fair Elections Act (Republic Act 9006) by excluding him from the same debate.

Sonza said he decided to file the complaint because of the refusal of the organizers to include him in the Harapan debate.

He said his exclusion from the debate constitutes a clear violation of the Fair Elections Act. – With Perseus Echeminada

After air wars, Villar dominates ground war

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.

Bus ads

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.

Lanterns

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).

Gordon, Villanueva: Why pick on us?

Gordon, Villanueva: Why pick on us?
By Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Bring it on.

Sen. Richard Gordon is not taking down his huge billboards on EDSA and on South Luzon Expressway despite an order from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for him to remove them.

“I will not dismantle it. I don’t own it. It does not belong to me,” Gordon, a presidential candidate of the Bagumbayan Party, said Wednesday when asked about the Comelec order.

Gordon, his running mate Bayani Fernando and presidential candidate Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas have billboards that exceed the mandated size, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said Wednesday.

The Fair Election Act specifies that the maximum size of posters should be 2 ft by 3 ft. For streamers announcing a public meeting, it’s 3 ft by 8 ft, which can be placed five days before the event and should be removed within 24 hours after the event.

Without his knowledge

Gordon said the two huge billboards that the Comelec referred to as oversized were donated by supporters and were put up without his knowledge.

The supporters have not called him to seek any advice on what to do with the two billboards that also include an image of Fernando.

“I have not talked to them. I have not even thanked them,” Gordon said.

One of the two billboards was put up by the best friend of his daughter Marnie. “That is their property,” he said.

Gordon said the putting up of the billboards on private property was part of freedom of expression. “That’s a constitutional right if I want to express support to any candidate,” he added.

Unfair application

Bangon Pilipinas campaign manager Lyndon Cana said the Comelec rules were not being applied fairly among all national candidates.

He said that along EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue) and other major thoroughfares, which are not designated common poster areas, posters of other candidates were prominently displayed with no one from the Comelec complaining.

“A supporter of genuine change has volunteered to put up a poster of Bro. Eddie Villanueva. Now this poster is being used to threaten Bro. Eddie with disqualification. Why zero in on this poster?” Cana said in a statement.

Bangon Pilipinas secretary general Ted Pascua said the party had already taken down Villanueva’s big billboard in Quiapo, Manila, the first time the Comelec warned against billboards that go beyond the allowable size.

He said a huge billboard in Balintawak, Quezon City, was still up because it was put up in one of Bangon Pilipinas’ headquarters. “Hence we have a huge billboard there,” Pascua said.

“Bangon Pilipinas will comply with whatever legal rules and requirements Comelec is validly mandated to enforce,” he added.

Cory, Ninoy banners

In Manila, Mayor Alfredo Lim assailed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for removing banners of the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino and her husband, martyred Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in the city.

Lim said MMDA men removed the banners along Roxas Boulevard and around Anda Circle without the consent of the local government.

The streamers’ removal was done even before the Comelec announced that it would ask the city government to put the materials down, according to the mayor.

Lim said it was the second time that the MMDA illegally put down the streamers the city had placed along Roxas Boulevard.

Lim said he received a call from Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, Manila Police District director, informing him that MMDA men were dismantling the streamers at around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

P50 per streamer

Lim claimed that the workers, whom authorities invited for questioning, were paid P50 for every streamer they took down.

The Comelec earlier said that it would ask the Manila government to put down all the posters of Cory and Ninoy to emphasize that one could not post campaign materials anywhere except in common poster areas.

It added that while the streamers were placed for the celebration of the 25th EDSA People Power Revolution, the image of Cory was also being used for the campaign of her son, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the Liberal Party standard-bearer

Absurd

In Daet, Camarines Norte, Noynoy Aquino said the authorities were “stretching” the meaning of the Omnibus Election Code in claiming that the banners violated election rules.

“If we follow the line of argument, perhaps they should remove the Ninoy Aquino in NAIA (the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila) … Perhaps they should change (the name) of the municipality of Ninoy Aquino,” he said.

“Their position is somewhat absurd,” the LP standard-bearer added.

In the first district of Batangas, campaign posters of deposed President Joseph Estrada and his running mate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, have been removed, their camp said.

“What’s puzzling is that only Erap (Estrada) and Binay posters are singled out while those from administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro and that of Ermita’s son Edwin, who is running for vice governor, are untouched,” said Binay’s spokesperson, Lito Anzures.

Estrada and Binay went on a motorcade and held a rally in the first district of Batangas on Tuesday. With reports from Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Philip C. Tubeza and Norman Bordadora

Party-list ads cost P24M, use Villar ‘basura’

Party-list ads cost P24M, use Villar ‘basura’
By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Where did the money come from?

A party-list group claiming to represent poor children has been able to afford television ad placements costing about P24 million with the country’s biggest network, according to an election consortium monitoring campaign spending.

That the party-list group “mimicked” a popular political advertisement of a presidential candidate has raised the eyebrows of a member of the consortium.

Akap Bata appeared to be an “affluent party-list” group because it was able to afford an advertising contract worth P23.6 million with ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., said Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

“What we are curious about is the spending capacity of Akap Bata as well as its use of the ‘Dagat-ng-Basura’ (Sea-of-Trash) advertisement of Sen. Manuel Villar … Why is it mimicking the ads of someone running for president?” Mangahas said at a press conference Wednesday.

Akap Bata “has signed three advertising contracts for 100 ad spots worth P23.6 million with ABS-CBN 2 alone and cover the periods March 5 to 13, March 14 to 20, and March 21 to 27,” said a PCIJ report to Pera’t Pulitika.

Another party-list group, A-Teacher, has a contract with the same network “for a more modest P777,815 worth of ads,” the PCIJ said. A-Teacher represents teachers and other school personnel.

The PCIJ is part of the Pera’t Pulitika Network, a consortium of nongovernment organizations monitoring candidates’ campaign spending.

Subliminal endorsement

Mangahas raised two questions about Akap Bata’s Dagat-ng-Basura ad. Is it subliminally endorsing Villar and thus circumvents the allotted airtime for each candidate? Is the party-list a marginalized group?

Mangahas pointed out that Akap Bata could afford to spend so much on TV ads even if it was representing a marginalized sector.

“It’s very ingenious!” Mangahas said of the group’s use of Villar’s ad that has had a viral effect on the public.

Practically the same

Akap Bata’s political ad is practically the same as Villar’s “Dagat ng Basura” ad with some minor changes, including the voice over of children’s wishes such as having a home, being able to go to school, and for a parent working overseas to come home.

For the unsuspecting viewer, the ad would seem another endorsement of Villar.

Dr. Joy Alcantara

Sought for comment, Akap Bata first nominee, Dr. Joy Alcantara, made no apologies in saying that her group used Villar’s ads because of its popularity.

She said Akap Bata, which started as a nongovernment organization eight years ago, asked for permission from the Villar camp to use the ad and paid the royalties to DM9, the advertising agency that made the Villar ad and owns the rights to it.

“The ad of Villar was very popular and we are a neophyte group. We want an ad that would make us popular right away. So we asked [the Villar camp] if we can use the ad,” Alcantara told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

She said that before the group adopted Villar’s ad, Akap Bata had checked his “track record” on legislation for children.

Alcantara said Villar had filed 26 bills addressing the concerns of children.

Same advocacy

“We don’t have a political alliance with [Sen. Villar] but we share the same advocacy for children,” she said.

As for Akap Bata’s funding, the group has “many donors,” Alcantara said. She said its ad contract with ABS-CBN was “much lower than the P23 million reported by Pera’t Pulitika.

Senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla, Villar’s spokesperson, said in a text message that “as far as we know, the Akap Bata party-list group is supporting MBV’s (Villar’s initials) candidacy.”

“We concur with what they said and that they paid for the rights and airtime. They are not receiving any logistical support from us,” Remulla said.

Biggest spender

Villar, the billionaire presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party, remains the biggest spender for political advertisements on television, radio and print since the start of the official campaign period.

Not far behind is Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, according to Pera’t Pulitika’s campaign spending monitoring of the first month of the campaign.

Villar’s total advertising value in the trimedia from Feb. 9 to March 15 reached P195.1 million.

Aquino, standard-bearer of the Liberal Party, spent P154.6 million while deposed President Joseph Estrada shelled out P103.2 million, a huge jump from his modest expenditure three months before the start of the campaign period.

The figures were not yet the discounted amounts for ad placements given by networks and the 30-percent, 20-percent and 10-percent discounts on TV, radio and print ads allowed by law.

With the discounts, Villar’s ads may have cost him P106 million; Aquino, P83.3 million; and Estrada, P72.6 million for the first month of the campaign alone, the PCIJ said in a report for Pera’t Pulitika.

Sen. Richard Gordon, Bagumbayan standard-bearer, was fourth with a discounted total of P48.8 million, which apparently went to his TV ad placements.

Based on Nielsen Media

The consortium and the PCIJ obtained their data from the media monitoring agency Nielsen Media.

The PCIJ noted that the candidates’ ad spending from Feb. 9 to March 8 was “relatively tempered” compared to the three months before the official campaign period.

“Even Villar pulled back his ad expenses by about 26.7 percent, compared to his average ad spending bills three months before the campaign period started,” the PCIJ said.

Nielsen noted that Villar had spent on some P1 billion worth of ads from November 2009 to January 2010, but with the discounts his bill may have been cut by half, the PCIJ added.

The report noted that Aquino, Estrada and Eduardo Villanueva had increased their ad spending at the start of the campaign period.

Shelling out P715,149 for his ads, Villanueva “outspent” administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro who posted a total discounted ad expense of just P266,092 from Feb. 9 to March 8.

Teodoro spending down

The PCIJ described it as a “drastic dive” from the P115 million Teodoro spent last January alone. Teodoro was second to Villar in ad spending three months before the campaign period, shelling out P184.4 million.

Pera’t Pulitika also pointed out that Villar, Aquino and Estrada had already used up nearly half of their allotted ad airtime on the country’s two biggest TV networks with still more than a month and a half to go before Election Day.

The Fair Election Practices Act allows each candidate to have a maximum airtime of 120 minutes for TV ads per station during the official campaign period.

Villar has 11 times more ads than GMA in pre-election year

Villar has 11 times more ads than GMA in pre-election year
By Carmela Fonbuena
Newsbreak

But President Arroyo had a free ride on institutional ads placed by government agencies

MANILA, Philippines – The country has seen in 3 elections how political advertisements can elect senators. But its power in a presidential race is yet to be seen. The candidacy of Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party (NP) is the test case.

Based on rate cards, Villar spent a total of P1.4 billion in television, radio, and print ads from January to December 2009, the pre-election year. This is based on data from media monitoring group AGB Nielsen Media Research.

Survey frontrunner Benigno Aquino III, who joined the race only in September 2009, spent P143 million from October to December.

According to the Fair Elections Act, media organizations should give candidates a 30% discount. But Villar’s camp claimed that they got a 66% discount because they bought the spots early. At this rate, it means that Villar spent P488 million for airing and publishing his advertisements the whole year last year. This amount does not include the cost of producing the ads.

Notwithstanding the actual cost of the ads, Newsbreak calculations show that, in terms of number, Villar had at least 11 times more ads last year than President Arroyo had the year before she ran for president (to get her own mandate; she was only serving the unexpired term of President Joseph Estrada, who was ousted in 2001).

President Arroyo’s ads from January to December 2003 cost a total of P63 million, based on the monitoring of AC Nielsen Media Research. (AC Nielsen has since merged with AGB.)

The advertising costs have doubled in the past 6 years. At today’s rates, President Arroyo’s ads would cost about P126 million. We used this amount in our calculation.

This computation is conservative. We used the rates for TV ads to adjust President Arroyo’s spending. In 2003, a 30-seconder ad on ABS-CBN during prime time cost P218,213. Last year, the cost of the same spot practically doubled to P432,879.

(Download chart: Advertisement Spending of Villar, Arroyo in Pre-Election Years)

We used TV ad rates because TV corners the biggest chunk of candidates’ ad spending. It is also the most expensive medium. In terms of total number of ads on TV, radio, and print, Villar may have more than 11 times President Arroyo had in 2003 because the same amount spent for TV can buy more spots in radio and print.

Newsbreak obtained the 2009 data from 2 advertising agencies that regularly receive reports from the AGB Nielsen. For veracity, we checked that the numbers from the 2 sources are identical. (AGB Nielsen has given another media organization an exclusive rights to its data this election.)

We compared the numbers with our file data on ad spending for the 2004 presidential elections.

Gov’t vs personal money

The political ad ban was lifted in January 2001. President Arroyo belonged to the first batch of presidential candidates who were allowed to use political advertisements as campaign tool.

But the 2004 election was not a good testing ground for the power of the political ads in a presidential race. President Arroyo’s victory—albeit disputed—in 2004 could not be attributed to her ads.

An incumbent president seeking to extend her term, President Arroyo enjoyed unmatched advantage over her rivals. As president, her activities were always covered in the news, giving her constant media exposure.

By current standards, President Arroyo’s media spending of P63 million is a drop in the bucket. But at that time when most people were still unfamiliar with the new campaign tool, President Arroyo’s ad spending was already controversial for being excessive.

President Arroyo’s ads in the pre-election year were even more questionable because government funds were used to pay for them. Various government agencies and corporations—Department of Agriculture, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Department of Transportation and Communications, Office of the Press Secretary, and Pag-Ibig Fund—came out with “institutional ads” showcasing President Arroyo’s supposed achievements.

A Commission on Audit shows that the national government spent a total of P278.4 million in advertisements in 2003.

(Download chart: Government Agencies that Spent on Arroyo Advertisements in 2003)

For his part, Villar, who says he is spending his own money for the ads, is equally criticized for his huge spending. Critics fear that he will ecoup his spending if he gets elected, a charge denied by the candidate.

It is in an advertisement that Villar defends himself against allegations that he will seek to enrich himself. “Kung talagang gusto ko yumaman, babalik na lang ako sa pagka-negosyante (If I really want to get rich, then I’ll just go back to being a businessman),” he says in the ad.

A real estate and housing magnate, Villar has a conjugal fortune valued by Forbes business magazine at US$540 million, making him the 9th richest in the country this year.

In a presidential forum in February, Villar also said his ads were his tools to match the popularity of Aquino.

“Hindi naman ako artista. Wala akong nanay na presidente. Wala akong kapatid na artista. Kailangan ang mahirap ang pinagsimulan na gaya ko ay bigyan ng pagkakataon, ng level playing field. Kung hindi ito (pol ads), wala na (I’m not a movie star. I don’t have a president for my mother. I don’t have a sister who’s an actress. Those with poor beginnings should be given a chance, a level playing field. There’s no other way to do that but through ads),” Villar said.

Villar had been the survey frontrunner until Aquino joined the presidential race in September 2009. Aquino’s candidacy was accidental—pushed by his supporters as a “public clamor” resulting from the death of her mother, democracy icon President Corazon Aquino.

Pulse Asia chief research fellow Ana Tabunda, former dean of the University of the Philippines School of Statistics, said media’s tribute to President Aquino as an honest, loving, and motherly played a role in “conditioning” the minds of Filipino voters into favoring Aquino.

In the October 2009 Pulse Asia survey, Aquino got 44 points compared to Villar’s 19 points.

Benefits of SC ruling

Based on the increase of Villar’s survey ratings, it appears that the voters didn’t mind his spending. It was his massive ad spending that was credited for the improvement of Villar’s survey ratings, allowing him to catch up with Aquino.

The January 2010 Pulse Asia survey showed Aquino and Villar statistically tied at 36 points and 35 points, respectively. For Villar, it was a 16-point leap from the October survey. For Aquino, it was a 9-point slide. The numbers have since been erratic, but Aquino’s lead has since failed to break the single-digit mark.

Villar’s ads worked for voter JR Hidalgo, 19, a squid balls vendor in Quezon City. “Gusto ko ’yung si Manny dahil mayaman siya, kaya ginagastos niya ’yung pera niya sa commercial, hindi ’yung pera ng mga tao, di ba? Hindi ’yun corrupt! (I like Manny Villar because he is rich and spends his own money on ads and not other people’s money. He is not corrupt),” Hidalgo said in an interview.

A November 2009 Supreme Court ruling nullifying the concept of premature campaigning was crucial in Villar’s timely rise before the start of the official campaign period.

The Supreme Court voided Section 80 o the Omnibus Election Code on premature campaigning. It said it cannot be applied for the May 2010 automated elections.

Without the last-minute ruling, Villar should have been forced to stop airing ads from Dec. 1, 2009, to February 9, 2010—the period between his filing of his certificate of candidacy and the start of the official campaign period.

In December 2009 alone, Villar spent P91 million, after a 66% discount on the rate-card amount of P267 million. His closest rival, Aquino, spent P24.94 million in ads.

(For the presidential elections in 2004, the deadline of filing of certificate of candidacies was on Dec. 31, 2003. Because of the poll automation in May, the Commission on Elections moved the deadline to December 1 to allow more time for the printing of ballots.)

The rest of the campaign period will show how far Villar’s ads can get him. It’s still a long way to go. Campaign period for the local elections has not even started. With reports from Maria Althea Teves, Newsbreak

Villar dares TV, radio to disclose earnings from political ads

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.