Investigative news organization lists top spenders of pre-campaign advertising

February 13, 2019 - 6:58 PM
Advertising spending campaign period 2019 midterm elections
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has revealed the top advertising spenders before the official start of the campaign period. (STAR/Michael Varcas)

A report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism ranks top spenders on advertisements before the official start of the campaign period.

The PCIJ report listed the amount spent by 20 candidates in the 2019 midterm elections from January 2018 to January 2019 and their net worth as declared in their filed Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth.

Sen. Cynthia Villar is the richest among the candidates by a wide margin, with a net worth of P3.6 billion. She ranked 9th in terms of advertising expenditure with P80.8 million.

Meanwhile, former presidential aide Bong Go emerged as the highest spender of pre-campaign advertisement with P422.4 million despite being the poorest among senatorial candidates. He has a declared net worth of P12.8 million.

Additionally, he has P3.9 million cash on hand as of December 2017.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism released a report that listed the senatorial candidates’ net worth and the amounts they spent on pre-campaigning ads. (Infographic by Uela Altar-Badayos)

The PCIJ report was based on Nielsen Media’s monitoring findings from January 2018 to January 2019 which included television, radio, print and outdoor “social concern” advertisements.

“[Bong Go’s] P422-million total ad buys amount to 3,287 percent of his net worth. Put another way, he bought political ads 32.9 times in value compared to his total personal wealth,” the independent media agency reported.

“Minus all that he owns, P409.6 million was the unfunded balance of his ad buys that Go might have paid using money from either public or private sources,” it added.

PCIJ observed that Go appeared in 519 advertising spots aired on various television channels in 2018.

“Also in 2018, out of 21,268 ad spots aired in various radio stations under the ‘social concerns’ subcategory, nearly half or 9,278 ad spots featured ‘Bong Go’ as brand, product, and advertiser,” the report continued.

As early as the third quarter of 2018, Bong Go’s face has appeared in several tarpaulins, relief goods, cellphones and shirts even though he was not decided to run that time.

Despite his ubiquity, the former presidential aide denied that he uses government funds for his campaign.

Go said he would disclose his campaign expenses when he files his Statement of Contribution and Expenditure that lists a candidate’s election-related expenses. It is supposed to be submitted within 30 days after election day.

Other senatorial candidates who spent a lot in advertisements were Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and Sen. Sonny Angara. — Infographic by Uela Altar-Badayos