Stories posted 2013

Overspending to victory

Comelec rules to disqualify
ER Ejercito as Laguna gov

LAGUNA IS supposed to be his clan’s ancestral province and he already enjoyed formidable name recall from past political runs and an occasional film career. But Emilio Ramon ‘ER’ Ejercito somehow seems to have found it still necessary to pour considerable sums on campaign ads for his most recent gubernatorial bid, and now the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is on his tail.

Today, Sept. 26, the Comelec First Division promulgated its decision disqualifying ER Ejercito for breaching the lawful spending limits that candidates for local positions may incur.

After row over expenses, income taxes

MWSS, water firms clash
over ‘guaranteed returns’

AFTER A NOISY CLASH over the possible disallowance of claims for income tax payments, the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System (MWSS) and its two private concessionaires are in the midst of another row.

This time, it is over the level of guaranteed returns that the water companies are entitled to get — a major factor in setting water tariffs.

How this debate ends will determine not only what price customers will have to pay for water but also how much profit the water firms could make in the next five years.

Pork, lump-sums, and President PNoy

Scam, no! PDAF a ‘mafia’
of executive & legislature

THERE’S NO making nice about this: when the shit hits the fan, the squall and stench are sure to rub off on everyone.

And so it is with pork barrel, the P25-billion annual tab on taxpayers that, says a former senator who had seen it at work, has turned the government into “a big, big mafia” or “syndicate,” a grand conspiracy of executive and legislative agencies fused in circles of kickbacks, corruption, patronage politics, and wasteful spending.

That means President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, and officials of the executive agencies, government corporations, and local government units that are the funds conduit and implementing agencies of pork projects, would be hardpressed in evading blame for the financial and political mess that pork has become.


The flow of pork

IMPLEMENTING THE Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) takes a long and layered process because it is a lump-sum item, which means that its purpose has yet to be identified during the budget year.

By the time it reaches its intended beneficiaries, a project funded by PDAF or pork barrel would have gone through at least three lawmakers, two members of the cabinet, or a governor, a mayor, or a nongovernment organization (NGO). Of course that’s assuming the intended beneficiaries get anything at all.

‘Advocacy’ plugs in aid of election

17 Senate bets, parties splurge
P446M on ‘pre-campaign ads’

THREE MONTHS ahead of the official campaign period for the May 2013 elections, 17 “prospective” candidates to the Senate and their political parties had hit the ground running, bombarding the air waves with what they called “advocacy ads” about themselves and sundry causes they claim to embrace.

They probably would not, for the life of them, call these “campaign ads” in aid of their election.

As far as election laws are concerned, some of them in fact point out that they are in the clear, when asked about the tons of money they spent in what can be described as “pre-campaign ads.”

P2.28-B spent in May 2013 elections

Expense reports of Senate bets
do not match sums of pol ads

THERE WERE late and incomplete filings, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is still considering the submission of election expenditure and contribution reports for the recent polls a historic high. According to Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim, the one-page reports that used to be common in past elections have now become the exception.

But Comelec isn’t about to celebrate just yet. While the quantity or volume of the Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) that the Commission received last month was indeed overwhelming, the quality or the truthfulness, accuracy, and compliance by content and form of the reports is another matter altogether.


Risa & Teddy: Elections a debt trap

BOTH VETERANS of the “parliament of the streets,” they mounted separate failed, if high-level and issues-focused, campaigns for the Senate in the May 2013 elections. Yet while Ana Theresia ‘Risa’ Hontiveros Baraquel and Teodoro ‘Teddy’ Casino have disagreed on politics and policy issues, they now face similarly tight situations because of their latest election spending reports. In the Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) they filed separately with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Hontiveros of the Akbayan party-list group and Casiño of the Makabayan party declared spending their own money in the campaign in amounts much larger than their declared net worth or cash assets could justify.

In plain terms, their numbers just don’t add up quite well.

Elections a family business

P465-M donations from kin,
own money sent 11 to Senate

WHO GETS VOTED is just half the story of elections.

Who finances the campaign, who gains or loses money, and by how much, are the more salacious pegs to the narrative. Money makes elections go round, and tracking its trail, the pivot of transparency and accountability that voters must exact of those they elected into office.

The 12 candidates for senator who won and their national political parties have reported that they raised P1.53 billion in donations and incurred P1.67 billion in expenses.

Corporate hara-kiri in May 2013

Firms in the red, gov’t contractors
top donors of Senate bets, parties

THE OPULENT names of tycoons and captains of industry, as well as of firms ranked among the country’s top 500 by sales and revenue, used to populate the list of donors to candidates during elections. Yet during the May 2013 elections, it seemed like big money went underground or receded in the shadows.

Documents show that about 2,000 individuals but only 73 corporate entities bankrolled the May 2013 election campaign of most of the 33 candidates for senator and their political parties. In all, the corporate donors racked up P265,051,028.82 in donations. This is just slightly more than 10 percent of the P2.03-billion that was splurged on political advertising on television alone in the 90-day official campaign period.


Foundations for elections

THEY WERE supposedly set up to uplift the lives of those in need. Yet in their first few months of operation, they served a rather different, yet specific, purpose: to promote the candidacy of two legislative aspirants who eventually won and are now occupying seats in the Senate.

Senator Joseph Victor ‘JV’ G. Ejercito of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares of Team PNoy were each supported during the campaign by organizations formed in their name: JV Para sa Bayan Movement Inc. and the Friends of Grace Poe Foundation Inc., respectively.

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