Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bishops warn voters vs overspending candidates

03/13/2010 | 07:12 PM

Original Story:

(Updated 10:15 p.m.) Sixteen members of the Catholic prelate led by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales called on voters on Saturday to beware of overspending candidates, saying that lavish campaign expenses in the past did not prove beneficial to the country.

“Excessive campaign expenses in the past did not augur good and responsive governance," Cardinal Rosales along with 15 other bishops belonging to the Manila Metropolitan Ecclesiastical Province said in a pastoral statement on Saturday, excerpts of which were posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news site.

With more than P2 billion already spent by candidates on political advertisements alone, this year’s election is touted to be the most expensive in the country’s history, according to Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) executive director Malou Mangahas.

“Everybody seems to be spending like crazy on advertisements," Mangahas said in a forum earlier this week.

The Catholic criteria

The bishops' pastoral statement also pointed out that freedom in an election means “no physical coercion" or “threat or money used to influence or to buy votes."

The bishops asked voters to “choose freely the leaders of the country who shall be accountable to serve them."

They said voters should tally the candidates’ respective positions on the issues of corruption and poverty, the “two major issues disabling the country today… (haunting) the country with destructive mutuality" because “as corruption increases, poverty worsens."

The prelates also stressed that voters should choose candidates who are “God-fearing; moral; not given to vices; reverent of life and its deserved decency," those with real concern for the environment and the poor, and those that provide good examples of responsible Filipino citizenship.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

The Manila Metropolitan Ecclesiastical Province include the Dioceses of Antipolo, Imus, Malolos, ParaƱaque, San Pablo, Taytay, Cubao, Kalookan, Novaliches, Pasig, Puerto Princesa and the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines.

The pastoral letter initiated by Cardinal Rosales will be read in all parishes and churches of the Archdiocese and Dioceses of the Ecclesiastical Province on Sunday, March 14, or the Sunday after in some areas.

Directed towards Villar

The pastoral statement, which appears to be just “an appeal to the conscience," is obviously directed towards Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., according to Ateneo de Manila University political professor Benito Lim.

“Although this statement is just telling voters to use their conscience, ’yung statement na ‘yan is partisan. They (the bishops) are directing it against one candidate at maliwanag na si Villar ’yun.," Lim told GMANews.TV in a telephone interview.

Villar has spent over P1 billion on campaign advertisements since November last year, according to AGB Nielsen.

Asked why the pastoral statement may have been directed against Villar, Lim answered, “Hindi natin alam kung bakit, pero siguro gustong ipakita ng Simbahan that they don’t want people who spend too much for votes, which they believe is immoral."

The political science professor likewise said that although the pastoral statements will be read in churches within the Manila archdiocese, it might have no effect on voters’ choices.

“This statement will just reinforce the belief of those who do not like Villar. It will not convert or make people change their votes, especially if they like Villar," he said.

Biggest spenders

Based on studies conducted by AGB Nielsen, Senator Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party is so far the biggest spender in television advertisements alone, amounting to P1.3 billion from November 1 last year to March 2 this year.

Administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro’s expenses in the same period amounted to P472 million, with only P60,480 since the start of the campaign period on February 9.

Former president Joseph Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino came in third with P88 million, followed closely by Senator Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party with P87 million. Senator Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan has so far spent P67.3 million.

Republic Act 7166 or the Synchronized Elections Law mandates that candidates running for president and vice-president should spend only P10 for every registered voter within the official campaign period.

This means that, with a projected total of 50 million voters in the upcoming polls, each candidate for either national position is only authorized to spend around P500 million for their respective campaigns.—With Andreo C. Calonzo/JV, GMANews.TV

Original Story:

No comments:

Post a Comment