By Rjay Zuriaga Castor 


Presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has not recorded any ad spending on Facebook since August 4, 2020 until December 31, 2021, a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed. 

PCIJ's report was obtained from the social media platform’s Ad Library data, a public database that provides advertising transparency by offering a comprehensive, searchable collection of all ads currently running on the social media platform owned by the company that now goes by the name Meta. 

However, Jonathan Ong, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said the son of the late dictator's zero spending is no longer surprising as he prefers "meme wars" over campaigning through ads. 

"BBM [Bongbong Marcos] is more invested in the "meme wars" and campaigning via political fan groups, community pages, and micro-influencers,” shared Ong, who has studied disinformation networks in the region.

“It’s not that BBM is not spending on political advertising; their campaign is strategically investing in influencer marketing and community mobilization which appear more organic and authentic,” he added. 

 Marcos, who has pending disqualification cases raffled by survivors of the Marcos dictatorship, had since been accused of his alleged propaganda networks pushing historical revision on his father’s brutal dictatorship. 

“My own digital ethnography of pro-BBM  accounts… reveals that they have never stopped pushing the ‘Marcos era as golden age’ narrative and at the same time continued to attack [those] whom they call the ‘pinklawans," Ong stressed. 

Meanwhile, presidential aspirant and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo topped the field in political advertising spending with an estimate of P14.1 million on the Facebook platform.

Lawyer and Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez clarified the ads were paid for by volunteers who had coordinated with the campaign team. The amount covered ads launched by Robredo’s official page and prominent pages "Team Leni Robredo" and "Dapat si Leni". 

“The campaign itself has not actually spent anything on ads. [They] were actually paid for by volunteer groups,” he clarified. 

However, Facebook's Ad Library does not detail how much the candidates spent to produce the ads and payments to social media experts managing their accounts, nor does it also cover payments to “influencers” tapped to endorse candidates.  

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it will strictly monitor the spending limit for political ads on social media, citing the anticipation that candidates in the 2022 national polls will maximize campaigning new media platforms.