20 November 2010

A Profound Role of Money in Politics


By: Michael John Niño Pluma

Every Filipino has the right to vote and be voted according to our Philippine Constitution, as long as you are qualified for that given position. But this is more on the imaginary type of our Constitution. Because in reality, ordinary people like me and those who belong to the “lower class of society” cannot run for any position that he or she wants to, even in the lowest government position, as long as you don’t have the resources to sustain your candidacy. And what are these resources? Well even though we don’t admit it, and even though it is very obvious, money is one of the most needed resources when we talk about politics. No matter how good looking you are, how smart you are, how charismatic you are, if you don’t have money you can never be qualified, although the COMELEC do not broadcast it, on any position especially when we are talking about the National position and Election.

2010 Presidential election is said to be the most expensive election in the Philippine history. For the past decades, Philippine elections rely heavily on manual tallying and canvassing of votes which makes it vulnerable to control. To prevent manipulation of interest, the government introduced the automated electoral system or the use of Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machines to facilitate counting. Which cost P11 billion to the Philippine government, not to mention that the COMELEC rented those machines only for May 2010 Presidential election.

In connection with this too much spending of money, there are some candidates who spent if not billion almost billions of peso last presidential election. Even though, for a presidential election, candidate’s maximum campaign expenditures should only be P500 million or P10 per voter, this ratio is based on the approximately 50 million registered voter as of 2010, his or her political party can add P5 per voter or P250 million pesos only. This is really a lot of money. It can even help thousands of less fortunate Filipinos.

Political candidates spent their money on different campaign activities such as: TV advertisements, Radio, Print Ad and other electoral paraphernalia, that they think could help them to gain trust from the public. Based on Pera at Pulitika 2010 (PaP) 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. This expense was too huge compared to the previous electoral expenditures.

Of the P4.3 billion, the top five candidates for president spent P1.1 billion, the candidates for senator another P1.5 billion, four candidates for vice president P653 million, and party-list groups P597 million. Omnibus ads” of the political parties for multiple candidates amounted to P297 million, and “tandem ads” for candidates for president and vice president, another P131 million.

Aside from this, running candidates for local positions altogether spent P162 million on print and broadcast ads during the two months that they were allowed to campaign.

According to the computations of NEDA-NPPS, the spending of the national government and all the candidates both local and national the estimated total expenditures for the May 2010 elections reached P15 billion. This includes Comelec’s budget for locally-funded projects under the 2010 General Appropriations Act (GAA), notably the FY (fiscal year) 2010 automated national and local elections and FY 2010 overseas absentee voting.

The total amount of money spent on the 2010 National election,

NEDA says, “Could contribute 0.39 percentage points to real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate this year.”

By comparison, expenditures during the 2007 polls contributed 0.34 percentage points to the GDP that year.

With this we can conclude that the spending of money of our politicians including our government is too huge and need to be addressed properly. It is really inappropriate to spend too much money during an election when people are suffering from poverty. This amount of money can help a lot of people, being a public servant does not necessarily mean that you should be a government official or be on the position in order to help the people. Unless you are aiming for something that will benefited your own interests.


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