Santiago hits presidential candidates for ‘scandalous’ spending on ads

Posted on March 10, 2016

SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday said the “scandalous” amounts spent by her rival presidential candidates on campaign advertisements warrant a lifestyle check.

In a statement, Ms. Santiago said her rivals have been spending way beyond the wealth declared in their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for their campaign.

“They spent at least five times the net worth they have declared for ads. One candidate even spent by 17 times his net worth. Where did they get the money?” Ms. Santiago said. “If the public is to speculate, they would think that these candidates have either stolen from public funds or peddled their influence.”

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Her statement came on the heels of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s report that the other four presidential candidates have collectively spent P3.2 billion from January 2015 to January 2016, way before the campaign period started Feb. 9.

“Almost all of these candidates are incumbent public officials, and have access to government funds. They are also prohibited by law from receiving gifts ‘if the value of the gift is under the circumstances manifestly excessive,’” Ms. Santiago said.

“The people deserve to know who bankroll the campaigns of elective officials so that when a campaign contributor enjoys benefits to the detriment of the public under the official’s watch, the people would know who to hold accountable,” she added.

Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Senator Grace Poe and former Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II separately acknowledged the likelihood of administration politicians jumping ship to the former’s camp, after the Supreme Court cleared her presidential bid.

Ms. Poe, during a sortie in Candelaria, Quezon, disclosed that non-allied candidates and political leaders have started “offering” support for her candidacy in the aftermath of Tuesday’s 9-6 vote.

“I don’t want to brag, but there are those who will be crossing fences, those who will be helping us,” Ms. Poe said, without naming names, in an report.

For his part, Mr. Roxas said in Batangas City that such talk is speculation as of now, while acknowledging the possibility.

“If there are those who intend to transfer, thank you very much. It would be better if they do so in the open instead of doing it in an underhanded manner,” Mr. Roxas said in Filipino in an report.

A party scion defended tough-talking Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte as someone who respects the rights of women despite his very public displays of machismo.

Senator Aquilino D.L. Pimentel III, chairman of Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan, said in a media briefing in Manila that Mr. Duterte has the track record to prove his commitment to women’s rights and child development.

“Just look at his record. Davao is a multi-awarded city in women’s rights and child development,” he said during a media forum in Manila. “He’s consistent in respecting and strengthening women’s rights especially in Davao City.”

Mr. Pimentel added that their presidential candidate can be a joker in private. “Maybe there are jokes that are captured on camera and interpreted in a bad light,” he said.

Party Spokesman Paola Alvarez, for her part, said “I don’t think Mayor Duterte is against women.”

“We have to understand his character is macho,” she said. “But when it comes to women’s rights, he’s serious in not taking women for granted.” -- Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato