Press Release
March 9, 2016


Presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday said that the scandalous amounts her rivals allegedly spent for election advertisements so far should prompt graft and corruption investigations.

Santiago, author of the proposed Anti-Premature Campaigning Law, questioned how other presidential aspirants can afford to spend 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? If the public is to speculate, they would think that these candidates have either stolen from public funds or peddled their influence," the senator said.

Her statement comes at the heels of a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report that four of the five presidential candidates have collectively spent some P3.2 billion in ads from January 2015 to January 2016, or before the campaign period.

The PCIJ report also showed gaps between the candidates' ad spending and their declared wealth. Vice President Jejomar Binay was allegedly the top spender, having placed P1.05 billion worth of ads, 17.4 times his net worth of P60.2 million in 2014.

He was followed by Sen. Grace Poe, who reportedly spent P1.016 billion on ads despite a net worth of only P89.5 million; Liberal Party bet Mar Roxas, who spent P969 million despite a net worth of only P202 million; and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who spent P146 million despite a net worth of P21.97 million.

"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,'" Santiago said.

The senator added that although accepting campaign contributions are standard practice during elections, the candidates are nonetheless obliged to reveal their donors and to pay for taxes for contributions received outside of the campaign period.

"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," Santiago said.

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