IT WAS 1992; Fidel V. Ramos had just been voted as president, and Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada as vice president. Presidential bet Miriam Defensor Santiago was crying foul, saying she had been cheated. She would later file an electoral protest, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was apparently more interested in something else: conducting its first ever audit of the campaign contributions and expenses of candidates for president, vice president, and senators for the then recently concluded polls.
The Comelec, then headed by Christian Monsod, seemed serious, and even formed a committee to examine the books of account of candidates, political parties, donors, and media entities. Lawyer Josefina de la Cruz, who became part of that committee, also recalls that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Commission on Audit (COA), and the National Bureau of Investigation served as Comelec’s “counterparts” in the initiative.
AS A veteran fund-raiser for presidential candidates tells it, there are fewer awkward moments in the campaign than a meeting between the candidate and a potential donor, especially if they are seeing each other for the first time.
Recalling one such meeting ahead of the recent May 10 polls, the fund-raiser says that what actually lasted a fleeting 15 minutes seemed to take forever. “They talked about everything else except the money,” the moneyman tells the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) on condition of anonymity. “At the end, when there was nothing else to talk about, the donor just said ‘By the way, here’s something for the campaign.’”
The net total spending on television, radio and print ads by the national candidates and party-list groups alone amounted to P4.3 billion across the 90-day official campaign period from February 9 to May 8, 2010.
Based on the PCIJ’s computation, 12-percent of the P4.3 billion corresponds to P517.3 million in expanded value-added tax (EVAT) revenues that should accrue to the public coffers.
Barring last-minute surprises in the election count, the Noynoy-Nognog tandem will lead the next casting at Malacañang Palace in the next six years, according to funny-boned Filipinos.
Nognog, dark-skinned Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in real life, will also be installed as the country’s “first black vice president,” they say.
THE PHILIPPINE PRESS, widely held to be the freest and most rambunctious in Southeast Asia, has no reason to boast and gloat as journalists across the globe observe World Press Freedom Day today.
Aside from the string of unsolved murders of journalists, spotty compliance and outright mockery of the law on the disclosure of statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) by the country’s justices, lawmakers and executive officials continue to hinder the people’s right to know – ironically this year’s theme in commemorating press freedom.
Our latest offering is a series of stories about the gigs, gimmicks and exploits in college of three candidates for president — the Liberal Party’s Benigno C. Aquino III, the Nacionalista Party’s Manuel B. Villar Jr., and the Lakas-Kampi’s Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.
These stories were written by communication students who are now working with the PCIJ on internship basis. We sent them out to field to discover how these candidates were like when they were students their age.
HIS LAW SCHOOL study buddies spew out superlatives when asked for proof that Gilberto Cojuangco Teodoro Jr., candidate for president of the administration Lakas-Kampi party, is true “Galing at Talino.”
Teodoro finished at the top of his class at the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1989. The same year, he passed the bar with a score of 86.185 percent, landing No. 1 among thousands of examinees.
THIS presidential campaign is turning out to be the most expensive yet in Philippine political history, but it is also a story of two extremes – profligacy and penny-pinching on political advertisements by the candidates.
In just the two months since the official campaign period began last February 9, six candidates for president racked up a daily average ad spending total of P10.5 million, or almost P633 million in 60 days. By contrast, the remaining three candidates had a total tri-media ad bill of zero, with data by media monitoring company Nielsen failing to yield a single print or broadcast spot bought by any of them.
IT’S A disconcerting paradox to say the least: In their avowed desire to serve in the highest office of the land, the top two candidates for president – Senator Manuel B. Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party and Senator Benigno S. Aquino III of the Liberal Party – are now being packaged and sold in the same way profit-driven firms market shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, diaper, infant formula, noodles, drugs for colds and diarrhea, mobile phone cards, beer, and whiskey.
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