Villar also dominates ‘ground war’

February 17, 2010

This observation resulted from the field research conducted by the Consortium on Electoral Reforms (CER) since the start of the official campaign period for national positions on February 9.
“Among the candidates it is again Manny Villar who has the most propaganda materials posted,” said Gladstone Cuarteros, coordinator of CER field monitoring project during the launch of the “Pera’t Pulitika” 2010 (PAP) Wednesday.
PAP is a consortium of organizations monitoring the election expense of candidates in the upcoming elections. It is funded by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and the United States Agency for International Development.
“He (Villar) has been consistent in both air war and ground war,” he added.
CER still does not have any estimate on how much each candidate spent on propaganda materials. Cuarteros did not give either the exact number of materials that Villar’s camp supposedly posted.
The field research will be conducted until May 8 in 10 major cities across the country: Baguio City (Northern Luzon); San Fernando City, Pampanga (Central Luzon); Quezon City (National Capital Region); Lucena City (Southern Tagalog); Legazpi City, Albay (Bicol Region); Iloilo City and Cebu City in the Visayas; and Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, and Davao in Mindanao.
Regional monitoring
CER’s monitoring team will go to the 10 cities twice a week to record the number of propaganda materials posted in public areas.
Cuarteros said that in Lucena City, Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro has the most propaganda materials. Nacionalista Party’s Villar has the most posted materials in Iloilo, while former President Joseph Estrada and Liberal Party’s Benigno Aquino III are almost tied in Quezon City.
“Most of these candidates are violating common poster areas,” Cuarteros added.
The Omnibus Election Code provides that the Commission on Elections designate a common poster area for all national and local candidates in every locality.
He said that ground war is as competitive as “air war,” citing observations from field researchers in the different regions. The researchers noticed that yellow ribbons (for Aquino) and orange ribbons (for Villar) are tied around some lampposts.
Most air time
According to Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which is part of the PAP consortium, Villar has the most television airtime compared to other presidential candidates.
Estrada is the only presidential candidate who has not exceeded the airtime allowance dictated by law, said Mangahas at the PAP forum.
According to Section 6, Paragraph 2 of the Fair Elections Act (RA 9006), each candidate or political party for any national elective office would only be entitled to not more than 120 minutes of television advertisements but only during the official campaign period.
But on Nov. 24, 2009, the Supreme Court decriminalized premature campaigning. This gave opportunity for candidates to spend as much as they want on political ads—may it be on air or in the streets, said Ramon Casiple who is also a member of CER.
Mangahas also noted that other presidential candidates—Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal, Nicanor Nick Perlas, John Carlos de los Reyes, and Vetellano Acosta—“did not spend a single cent” on television ads.
New ground war
Cuarteros said that they discovered a new medium for campaigning: transit ads, especially those on buses. He said that CER still does not know how much the political ads on busses cost.
He even noted that the Comelec does not have guidelines on using campaign materials on busses.
The consortium also noted that propaganda materials posted in the streets for the 2010 polls are less compared to previous elections.
“Contrary to what is expected, not much propaganda materials have been posted in the streets of the cities in the opening day of the election campaign period,” he said.
The reason could be that the decriminalization of premature campaigning allowed for more air time for TV ads, he said.
Cuarteros added that in the past elections, the first 30 days of the campaign period is usually for awareness building of the candidates. He said that this is not necessary at this time anymore.