Sunday, August 25, 2013

A congressman's and a senator's ditty?

I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”

That is a bumper sticker, a parody of “Heigh Ho” made famous in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. What has this got to do with the (Philippine) pork barrel scam? Perhaps this is just the congressmen' and senators' ditty?

In a regional election in the mid-90s, we were told that lenders were ready for anyone who wanted funds. Back then the post for mayor in very rural Mindanao cost as much as 6 million pesos. This would be paid back through the internal revenue allotment (IRA). Monthly tranches, shares to the local government from the national coffers, would first go to the financier until the debt and interest are fully paid. The IRA formed part of the local pork barrel.

The cost of getting elected has gone up since.  It is higher when the rivalry is strong, and even higher in densely populated areas, and when size of the constituency is broader.

Perhaps the biggest expense is on patronage.  These are the monies used to secure support, among which are for buying individual votes or manipulating the results.  In a recent article in the Philippine Star, Rep Lani Mercado Revilla (Cavite 2) elaborated some of the other costs for us. []

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reports that in 2012 among the "33 candidates for senator and the 12 political parties that nominated them, a total of P2.28 billion was spent on the campaign, 90 percent of which went to political advertising on television, radio, newspapers, and online media during the official 90-day campaign period. []  I believe that patronage dwarfs these costs and are, unfortunately, not well tracked as the advertising expenses.

With the huge amounts advanced on getting elected, there must be a number of recovery mechanisms somewhere, don't you think?

Luneta here we come!


  1. I think it is the tend of South East Asian and again it is the politician. Again we are to be with them either we like or do not like. They will now invest and harvest later in better way. They will rule the subject in a benevolent way and subjects will just look for favor ,but not as right.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. structural changes in the way we elect our leaders have to be effected. as you have suggested, and advocated, one is through electoral finance reforms. this is a formidable task since the mass media have a very large stake in this. i am sure they will oppose this by down playing its importance, or even outrightly oppose this measure, in leveling the playing field in the elections so that competent and honest candidates with little resources can run for elective positions.