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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.

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.

IN THE unnervingly expensive race for the Philippine presidency, the candidates who splurge are those less open to discussing their campaign spending, while candidates who spend the least are the most open to talking about their finances. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) managed to ask most of the presidential candidates about their positions on various issues involving campaign finance: where they get their campaign money, their major donors, and their expenses.

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