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.
FOR NETIZENS already inured to the sight of presidential candidate Manuel ‘Manny’ Villar Jr. peering back at them from what should be their private Facebook or email pages, what’s one more Villar ad? Already acknowledged as the biggest spender in the 2010 presidential race, Villar has established a broadcast and online presence that is simply overwhelming.
WHAT regulations? The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may be keeping tab on political ads in the broadcast and print media, but so far it has refrained from issuing guidelines on online campaigning. This has helped lead to a digital free-for-all among candidates in the upcoming polls who have made the so-called New Media yet another battleground for votes.
THEY probably thought they got a free pass to flood television with political ads beyond the airtime and spending limits set in law, having run commercials before the 90-day campaign period could start last February 9. But the top candidates for president and vice president, as well as those who donated and bankrolled their pre-campaign ads, had better think again, according to lawyers and officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).