Barely a month has lapsed since the official campaign period started last February 9 but at least 15 candidates for national posts have already acquired more than a third of a billion pesos worth of ads — or P373 million — from television network ABS-CBN alone, according to advertising contracts submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Seven of the 15 candidates come from the apparently richly funded Liberal Party of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Comelec's initial harvest of advertising contracts submitted by ABS-CBN for 14 candidates, and by Solar Entertainment Corp. for one candidate, showed an initial combined gross total of P373,209,719 in total ad spending by three candidates for president, three for vice president, and nine others for senator.
Another network giant, GMA-7, as well as other radio networks and newspapers, have not yet submitted to Comelec the advertising contracts they have signed with the candidates.
The poll body requires media agencies to submit copies of these contracts every 30th day during the three months covering the official campaign period.
(Editor's note: GMA Vice-President for Legal Affairs confirmed this to GMA News Online, noting: "Under the law, copies of the ad contracts must be submitted to COMELEC within 5 days after signing of the contract by the candidate concerned or the authorized representative of the party. GMA will make the submission within the required period once the ad contract is signed by the candidate/party rep.")
Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II, LP's candidate for president, has tapped Havas Media Ortega, represented by Joselito Olegario, as his media agent. Three ad contracts with ABS-CBN showed Roxas as cash payor of the following amounts: P13,129.310; P5,816,783; P3,490,069 for TV and radio ads. His ad spend at the network, as of March 3, 2016: P22.63 million.
Grace Poe, Galing at Puso slate's candidate for president, chose Julia Adrienne Garcia, managing partner of the Huddle Room Media, Inc. as her ad agent.
Poe has acquired three ad contracts with ABS-CBN. These involved P41,404,420 for TV ads; and P7,230,108 and P2,734,784 for radio ads. Her ad spend at ABS-CBN thus far: P51.4 million.
But contrary to Comelec's rule that candidates must personally sign all advertising and other contracts with service providers they had hired for their campaign, Poe's ad contracts were signed only by lawyer Salvador C. Britanico Jr., with special power of attorney from Poe.
Miriam Defensor Santiago, People's Reform, Party (PRP) candidate for president, has tapped Great Wall Advertising Inc., represented by media manager Olivia Regulto, as her ad agent. For Santiago, PRP acquired ads with ABS-CBN worth a gross total of P3,023,066.
Meanwhile, LP's candidate for vice president, Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ Robredo, has Mediacom as her ad agent, represented by Kriselle Cabaero, senior media planner, and Anna Kristina Hormillo, media manager.
Robredo has acquired two ad contracts with ABS-CBN worth P18,027,111 and P23,252,083. The network's receipts showed that payment for the ads came from Robredo herself. As of last Friday, for her ABS-CBN ads alone, Robredo has already spent P82.56 million, or four times more than Roxas's ads in the same network.
Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, through his ad agent Y&R MEC Media represented by Van Nadres, acquired five contracts: the first for P41,023,350, a second for P335,835, a third for P14,104,772, a fourth for P14,219,410, and a fifth for P2,2704,229, all at ABS-CBN.
He had spent a measly P2 million on his pre-campaign ads, but soon after February 9, Escudero began bombarding the airwaves with ads. His ad bill as of March 3 of P92.39 million landed Escudero the No. 1 spot at ABS-CBN in terms of ad-placement value among candidates.
By comparison, independent candidate for vice president Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV of the Magdalo Party has signed two contracts with ABS-CBN -- P9,140,650 and P465,240 -- for TV and radio ads, or a total of P9.606 million, just a tenth of Escudero's ad buys. In both of his ad contracts, Trillanes is listed as payor of the ads.
Nine senatorial candidates have also indulged in early ad binging at ABS-CBN, five of them from the Liberal Party.
One, Joel Villanueva, who is among the LP senatorial bets, has signed an ad contract with ABS-CBN worth P2,267,290 and which listed a certain Ben Co as payor in several receipts from the network.
Villanueva has tapped Mediaforce Vizeum through Pam Delgado, associate media director, and Monica Patoc, investment manager, and Jude Digao as his ad agents.
A second LP bet, Francis Pangilinan, chose Havas Media Ortega represented by Jay Orcine, trading and accountability manager, and Joselito Olegario, trading manager, as his ad agent. He signed and paid for two ad contracts worth P14,458,868, and P1,868,064, or a total of P16.33 million.
A third LP candidate, Ralph Recto, represented by media agent Faye San Pedro, acquired two ad contracts -- for P11,948,329 and P2,123,755, or P14.07 million in all.
Yet another from the LP, Risa Hontiveros, had all her ad contracts signed by Eduardo F. Chan Jr. as "advertiser" and "donor," with OMD Phils. as her media agency, represented by Vher Fajardo.
On Hontiveros's behalf, Chan signed and paid for four contracts worth P10,469,339 million, P4,154,485 million, P2,278,871 million, and P830,969 -- or P17.7 million in the first month of the campaign and in ABS-CBN alone.
In one contract for Hontiveros, the gross cost of 30-second ad for TV Patrol and Maalaala Mo Kaya was listed as P830,969, and net cost of 85 per cent at P706,323,with commission/fees due to agency of P124,645.
A fifth LP candidate, Mark Lapid, bought ads from Solar Entertainment TV worth P2,784,600. He was represented by Ernesto Ramel Jr., secretary general of Aksyon Demokratiko, in the contract covering ad buys on ETC, 2nd Avenue, Jack TV, Basketball TV, and Solar Sports.
Opposition candidate Richard Gordon, for his part, has assigned Havas Media Ortega represented by Jay de Jesus to be his media agent. He has sealed with ABS-CBN three contracts with gross values of P11,633,536; P2,802,096; and P3,164,331. His total ad spend at the network thus far: P17.6 million.
An ad contract with ABS-CBN worth P21,937,581 (paid by the Lakas-CMD party) were signed for senatorial candidate Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, but this was covered by three receipts from the network. Romualdez has tapped Starcom Mediavest Group Phils. represented by Irene Sarmiento as his media agent.
As of March 3, Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri, who is a guest in the Poe-Escudero senatorial slate, has also sealed two ad contracts with ABS-CBN, through his media agent I-Consult Advertising, Inc., which has Arnold Vegafria as president, and Teresa Enriquez as media director. One of the contracts was for P6,328,580 and the other P5,816,783, or a total of P 12.15 million.
Meanwhile, independent candidate Francis Tolentino has acquired five ad contracts with ABS-CBN. Three with gross values of P964,873; P1,631,721; and P3,232,876 were paid by Patriot Freedom Air Inc. Two others worth P242,158 and P690,200 listed Tolentino himself as payor.
Tolentino's ad spend as of March 3 on ABS-CBN alone amounted to P6.76 million. He named AdMedia Edge represented by Rizalina Buenaseda Hombre as his ad agent.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a legal opinion issued in July 2015, ruled that all corporations are prohibited from donating to candidates or partisan political activities. That puts into question Patriot Freedom Air Inc.’s apparent donation to Tolentino by way of paying for his ad placement with ABS-CBN.
—PCIJ, March 2016