2022 Philippine Elections

P800-M funding drought led to Alvarez dropping Lacson

Rambo Talabong
P800-M funding drought led to Alvarez dropping Lacson

FUNDING PROBLEM. Partido Reporma candidates Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Tito Sotto speak to supporters at the Pasig Mega Market.

Rob Reyes/Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) Pantaleon Alvarez says he asked for a budget for poll watchers but the funds never came
P800-M funding drought led to Alvarez dropping Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – It was all about money.

In a message to reporters on Friday, March 25, Senator Panfilo Lacson sought to clarify the reason why he was dropped by Partido Reporma. It was not just about survey numbers, he said, but campaign funding.

“It was actually more about the issue of campaign expenses for their local candidates. His (Alvarez’s) chief of staff was asking for P800 million in additional funding which I honestly told him I cannot produce,” Lacson said.

Lacson was reacting to Alvarez dropping him for Vice President Leni Robredo after seeing Lacson’s poor performance in the surveys. Robredo’s ratings, meanwhile, have risen, albeit in very small increments. She has also been able to collect fields of energetic supporters in all provinces she’s flown into.

“We reasonably believe that the only realistic option at this point, with roughly a month and a half left, is to converge with Leni Robredo’s campaign,” Alvarez said on Thursday.

P800-M funding drought led to Alvarez dropping Lacson

In text messages to Rappler, Alvarez confirmed asking for a “budget” from Lacson, but he clarified that it would be used for poll watchers.

“I did not ask any amount of funds for my local candidates because we can very well fund our campaign,” Alvarez said.

Poll watchers are critical in any campaign. They are appointed by political parties to observe the precincts, ensuring no cheating occurs.

Latest data from 2019 counted total precincts nationwide at around 389,703. Using Alvarez’s formula, Reporma needed P779 million.

In a statement later on Friday, Alvarez said he was merely doing his duty to inform Lacson about what it would take to keep the campaign going.

“Without the ability to cover for these costs, it was only right that we inform our local candidates – from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – and ground personnel about the true state of our fiscal affairs,” Alvarez said.

He added: “All candidates and parties are covered by this harsh fiscal reality, no one is exempted. And all campaigns for 2022, perhaps with the exception of the frontrunner, are likely having predicaments with their finances.”

Lacson was earlier reported to be spending the most for ads, shelling out around P915 million in 2021, based on data from Nielsen reported by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

Was the Robredo campaign asked the same? The campaign did not directly answer reporters’ questions but it said it had no P800 million. Instead, it focused on its strength of having a brigade of enthusiastic volunteers.

“We are a campaign thriving on initiative and volunteerism, and we certainly do not have P800 million to give away to anyone. It is clear to us that the support for VP Leni’s presidential bid is anchored on the hope that she can reform the government and bring a better future for all Filipinos,” Robredo spokesman Barry Gutierrez said.

Alvarez added that Robredo is not a member of Reporma so she “has no obligation to the party.” – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.