By Lance Arevada

Both President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte were recorded as the highest spenders in the presidential and vice-presidential races of the recent 2022 Elections, data from the submitted statements of contributions and expenditures (SOCEs) of national candidates released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have shown.

According to partial copies of SOCEs from Comelec’s finance office, Marcos Jr. has spent a total of P623.2 million on his presidential campaign, with around P371.8 million coming from cash contributions and about P251.4 million from in-kind contributions.

The campaign frontrunner and eventual president claimed that he did not spend any money from his own finances for his campaign, reporting P0.00 in personal funds according to his SOCE.

Former vice president Leni Robredo, who ran under the banner of a people’s campaign, was the second highest spender based on her SOCE with a total of P388.3 million worth of campaign expenditures.

Most of the amount spent on Robredo’s campaign was recorded to be from cash contributions, with only at least P19,000 coming from the former vice president’s personal funds.

Ex-Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso placed third among the presidential candidates by spending P242.6 million on his campaign. He is followed by former senator Ping Lacson with a total of P160.3 million in campaign funds used.

Pacquiao, one of the country’s richest senators during his term of office, was the top spender in terms of utilized personal finances, with P62.6 million coming from his pocket. He placed fourth among the candidates with a total of P119.1 million in campaign expenditures.

The candidates are then followed by labor leader Leody de Guzman and doctor-lawyer Jose Montemayor with around P1 million and P100,000 campaign funds used, respectively. Meanwhile, candidates Ernesto Abella, Norberto Gonzales, and Faisal Mangondato were all recorded as having failed to file their respective SOCEs.

‘VP Sara is the highest spender’

Like her running mate, then-Davao City Mayor and eventual Vice President Sara Duterte was also recorded as the highest spender among the candidates in the vice-presidential race, recording a total of P216.1 million which are all labeled as in-kind contributions.

Former senate president Vicente Sotto III, who placed third in the official count, followed Duterte with around P157.1 million worth of campaign funds used. Meanwhile, former senator Kiko Pangilinan is reported to have spent P130.6 million on his vice-presidential run.

For businessmen Manny SD Lopez, he reported that he has spent about P1.8 million on his run. Meanwhile, the rest of the candidates have all spent less than a million on their campaigns, with Doc Willie Ong at P522,000, Lito Atienza at P240,000, Carlos Serapio at P218,000, and Walden Bello reporting to have spent no campaign funds.

Candidate Rizalito David is reported to have failed to file his SOCE at the COMELEC.

‘SOCEs cover only official expenses’

The released SOCEs only cover the expenditures of the national candidates during the official campaign period set by the COMELEC, specifically from February 8 to May 7. Candidates are not required to release their campaign expenditures used from the time they have launched their candidacies and submitted their Certificate of Candidacy (COCs).

In a report by Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), they recorded that both presidential candidates Marcos Jr. and Robredo spent P1.4 billion each on pre-election advertisements from March 2021 to January 2022.

Among the vice-presidential candidates, Sotto, Duterte, and Pangilinan all spent a total of P600 million, P500 million, and P400 million, respectively, on advertisements during the same period.

While limits on ad spending are only in place during the official campaign period, the PCIJ also noted that “many candidates appeared to have spent above the spending limits under the law.”

According to Comelec Resolution No. 10730, presidential and vice-presidential candidates are allowed to spend P10 for each of the 65,745,529 registered voters nationwide for the 2022 Elections, translating to a limit of P650.76 million in total amount of expenses during the official campaign period.

While all candidates mentioned seem to have complied with this limit, the total amount of their campaign expenditures is hard to be fully determined given that they are not required to fully disclose their pre-campaign spending.