By Jake J. Maderazo | Inquirer.net
It’s 122 days or exactly four months before Oct. 1-8 when aspiring national and local candidates will once again troop to Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices and file their certificates of candidacies. Official campaign season will begin on March 25 next year on to the May 9, 2022 general elections.
On the national level, infighting within political parties simmers. Look at Sen. Manny Pacquiao who was unceremoniously ousted Monday as PDP Laban’s acting president. A political earthquake that will impact on the opposition’s 1SAMBAYAN and solid parties ike NPC, NP, NUP, LP, LAKAS NUCD, and Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
But on the local level, national politics still remain unimportant, since this is time really to organize and finance political teams. Time to make presence felt, assess the impact or name recall by their constituents. No wonder, politicians in Metro Manila are again sprouting. They are in charity occasions, relief drives aka community pantries with signature and “colored campaign tents” brandishing their names.
Uniformed political volunteers are once again busy “reaching out to people”, distributing groceries in churches and handing cash assistance to pedicab drivers and operators. Some incumbents are donating “salaries” into simultaneous community pantries in all their barangays and other gimmickries.
Technically, this is the time to start putting on payroll the “core political workers” of candidates for the next four months and run up to the March campaign until election day. For aspiring mayors, one can only spend P3 per voter by law, so if you want to challenge Mayor Isko Moreno in Manila where there are 1,065,149 registered voters, you will only incur more than P4 million, that is if you believe Comelec’s Statement of Campaign Expenditures (SOCE).
In past Manila elections, a winning candidate would need at least P150 million campaign funds to win all of its six districts. Quezon City, which has the largest area and voter population, will need at least P150-P200 million while Makati will need P80 to 100 million.
Remember, former Laguna governor ER Ejercito was disqualified by spending P28 million on airtime against the allowable P4 million spending limit. This is why the Comelec SOCE is a sick joke. Nobody believes it.
Incumbent solons will be hard to beat
If one looks at the horrifying pork barrel allocations of incumbent congressmen in the records of government agencies, they are literallly big sharks in a pond.
For example, in the past 2020 budget, DPWH records in the Manila-North Engineering District has released P2.178 billion for five of Manila’s congressmen. In DPWH-NCR-QC First Engineering District, P851.9 million was released for the projects of three QC solons. In DPWH-NCR Third Engineering District (Camanava), another P843.4 million was released for projects of the four solons here. DPWH-Metro Manila first district covering Taguig, Marikina, Pasig and San Juan allocated P1.79 billion for its seven congressmen. The list goes on and this is just for 2020. When the new speaker came in with the 2021 budget, their “pet projects” now presented as “line budget items”, also skyrocketed.
Let’s crunch the numbers. If an incumbent congressman gets P200 million pork every year for his/her three-year term, that would total P600 million. And if he/she charges an SOP of 20 percent per project, that would mean a yearly P40 million income or a total of P120 million now available for his/her campaign funds.
With total district population in Metro Manila ranging from a high 201,000 to a low 95,000 voters, his/her campaign war chest for reelection is peanuts. It might even be better or enough to challenge the incumbent mayor, as some solons in NCR are actually planning.
So, my final word of advice to those well meaning people who are better qualified and being pushed to challenge these incumbent congressmen: Forget it and keep your money.