'SI MARK...MAGASTOS YAN’: Mark Villar is top mainstream media spender in Senate race; ran ads worth P2.2-B

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: INQUIRER.net

Following the 2022 election campaign season, former public works secretary and presumptive senator Mark A. Villar aired a lion's share of P2.2-billion spending on mainstream media advertisements from January 2021 to the end of March 2022, data from Nielsen Ad Intel showed.

In June 2021, Villar started airing ads when he appeared with his father, business tycoon and former Senate President Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr. Just months after, the presumptive senator aired his own ads.

The Villars are among the richest and most entrenched political families in the country. In January 2022, the Villar-owned Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS) was awarded by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) provisional authority to operate Channel 16, the ABS-CBN digital TV frequency.

Also reaching the P2-billion mark is re-electionist Sen. Joel Villanueva. Villanueva’s family runs Zoe Broadcasting Network (ZBN), the broadcast media arm of the Jesus Is Lord Church, which his evangelist father, Eddie Villanueva, previously headed. 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, former senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Loren Legarda, and former Vice President Jejomar Binay also joined the pool of top spenders among the senatorial candidates after breaching an ad space and airtime worth over P1-billion since January 2021. 

Meanwhile, the late dictator’s son and presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his closest opponent Vice President Leni Robredo, topped the ad spending among the 10 presidential aspirants. During the 15-month period, Marcos and Robredo both recorded over P1.4 billion worth of ads —  including ads in which they appeared with other candidates. 

Among the vice-presidential aspirants, Senate President Vicente Sotto III has been the biggest spender so far, recording nearly P600 million worth of ads. This is followed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who aired ads worth more than P500 million, and Senator Francis Pangilinan with ads worth more than P400 million. 

The ad spending data of the candidates was acquired by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) from Nielsen Ad Intel, whose database covers the spending of candidates across TV, radio, print, and outdoor platforms like billboards. 

The amounts determined by Nielsen Ad Intel were based on published rate cards, which do not reflect the discounts campaign teams may have availed from broadcast networks or publishers and the cost of producing ads and fees to celebrities or talents who appeared in them. 

The monitored ad spending of candidates does not also cover the expenses of candidates on social media and in their hustings around the country during the 90-day campaign. 


Copyedited by Nehmia Elyxa Relano 

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