Senatorial bets need P500M in campaign funds to win
Exactly 24 days from today, or until Oct. 8, senatorial bets would have submitted their certifi-cates of candidacy before the Commission on Elections. This batch of victorious 12 elected sen-ators is luckier because together with the incumbents, they will move to the controversial, P15-billion fully furnished 4-tower New Senate Building now under construction in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. An excessively large and lavish edifice for 24 occupants, while people are reeling from the pandemic.
But the coming 2022 elections is not a walk in the park, much difficult than the 2019 mid-term elections, where well known and heavy spending candidates lost despite their dominant broad-cast media presence and large-scale national machineries. The Estrada siblings, Otso Deretso with Bam Aquino, Mar Roxas, Serge Osmeña, and Juan Ponce Enrile, to name a few.
Eight reelectionists survived: Senators Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara, Lito Lapid, Nancy Binay, Bong Revilla, and Koko Pimentel. They were joined by newcomers Bong Go, Bato De La Rosa, Imee Marcos and Bembol Tolentino. Nine winners belong to Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) coalition, while Poe ran as independent, Lapid under NPC, and Binay under UNA. Villar topped the senatorial race with 25 million votes, or 53 percent of the total 47.3 mil-lion votes cast. Numbers 10,11,12 positions were very closely fought by Pimentel, Revilla, Binay, JV Ejercito and Bam Aquino, all at 14-million votes each, or 30 percent.
Today, coalition candidates are returning but maybe a bit trickier because 2022 is a presiden-tial/VP elections. Inclusion on the national ticket of a standard bearer is a tooth and nail affair with heavy costs. Political experts insist that a winnable campaign fund today for every senato-rial candidate is P500 million using the present Comelec cap at P3 to P10 allowable expense per voter. A pending Senate bill wants this increased from minimum P10 to P50 per voter. Now we will ask: How will they recover their costs?
It is also the first time that disenfranchised ABS-CBN will be absent on the national election spectrum, incapable of cashing in from those multi-billion peso TV spots as well as mounting its traditional biggest “nationwide free TV” coverage and real time quick count for May 2022.
TV eyeballs are declining, print circulation is dipping, and even social media numbers of news organizations are diminishing. This happens with voters’ perception that mainstream media are manipulative with hidden agendas. But on the battlegrounds of competing partisan trolls, the exchange is ferocious, personal and unforgiving. Some get leaked to mainstream, print and broadcast, but turns to temporary fad or gossip and largely disbelieved by many.
These intricate scenarios are probably why new names are surfacing while old names are being pushed out of contention. President Duterte, in one of his sleepy talks, called on his loyalists to boot out old personalities in his new peeve, the Senate. Probably a suggestion but it is fatal to a reelectionist’s chances.
However, there are new and very qualified senatorial bets coming up. For instance, former de-fense secretary Gilberto Teodoro, PNP Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Southern Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres Gomez, Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, former VP Je-jomar Binay, Labor Secretary and former Justice Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello.
Among the returning senators, we see the names of Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, Sorsogon gov-ernor Chiz Escudero and Sherwin Gatchalian. Among “interesting” newcomers would be TV show hosts/philanthropists Willie Revillame and Raffy Tulfo.
But the big question lingers. Do these candidates have the wherewithal of P500 million each as campaign funds in the next six months? If yes, are they hard-earned money or donated by agenda-seeking oligarchs and businessmen out to acquire favorable influences and government contracts?
With cellphones, everybody is now a citizen journalist capable of scrutinizing both the new and those seeking reelection in all available media platforms—social, digital chatrooms, or main-stream. After two years of pandemic lockdown and hard life, the people are adamant, angry and eager to “judge” these “political animals”. And like what happened in 2016, the May 2022 people’s verdict could be unpredictable, merciless and shocking.
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