Sara Duterte

WHO’S WHO: The top campaign donors of Sara Duterte, Lakas-CMD

Dwight de Leon
WHO’S WHO: The top campaign donors of Sara Duterte, Lakas-CMD

Angie de Silva/Rappler; Allan Peter Sinco/PonD News Asia; Janina Malinis/Rappler

Two senatorial candidates, two political parties, and a Davao real estate firm donated to Sara Duterte's successful vice presidential bid

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Sara Duterte’s top campaign contributors in the 2022 elections were senatorial candidates who actively campaigned for her, as well as political parties that joined forces to back her aspirations for the country’s second highest post.

Duterte’s list of top donors was contained in her Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE), which she submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in June and was released by the poll body’s campaign finance office on Tuesday, August 30.

Overall, former president Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter received contributions worth P216.19 million.

Rappler takes a look at some of the names and checks their background, as well as potential ties that bind.

Duterte’s top donor: Senatorial candidates
MOUTHPIECE. Former presidential spokesman backed Sara Duterte’s candidacy in the 2022 elections. Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Duterte’s top individual campaign donor is former presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who mounted a failed senatorial bid in 2022. Roque shouldered ad payments worth P36.410 million for his former boss’ daughter.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, whose reelection bid was successful, paid P12.827 million worth of ads for Duterte. Gatchalian offered to be Duterte’s running mate sometime in 2021, when she was flirting with the idea of seeking the presidency.

Duterte’s top donor: Davao firm

Esdevco Realty Corporation, a real estate firm based in Davao City, contributed P19.923 million for her ads. Its chairman Glenn Escandor is also the owner of The Royal Mandaya Hotel and Matina Enclaves Residences, a mixed-use development in Duterte’s hometown.

Escandor is closely allied with the older Duterte, and was once his presidential assistant for sports.

After Duterte won the presidency in 2016, he used the clubhouse in Matina Enclaves to conduct press conferences, wherein he would announce his first policy decisions as president and first batch of Cabinet appointments. Because of the former president’s close relationship with the Escandor family, he reportedly routinely got to use the facilities of The Royal Mandaya Hotel for free.

ALLY. Davao businessman Glenn Escandor takes a group photo with then-president Rodrigo Duterte in 2017. Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
Duterte’s top donor: Political parties

While former president Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino paid Duterte’s ads worth P7.5 million, nothing beats the contributions of Duterte’s party Lakas-CMD. Its in-kind contributions amounted to P139 million, most of them in ad spending, but also a small chunk for campaign paraphernalia, travel expenses, telephone and internet, chartered flights, meals, and light and sounds.

Below is the full list of Duterte’s campaign donors:

But what about Lakas’ contributors?

Since 64% of the total contributions received by Duterte was from her party, it is interesting to see the names that bankrolled the campaign operations of Lakas-CMD.

Based on its SOCE, the party received P180 million in contributions.

A total of 140 people chipped in for Lakas. Five of them donated P20 million each; two people, P10 million each; 22 people, 7-digit figures each. When combined, it’s around 96% of the total.

Top Lakas-CMD donor: Businessmen

Businessman Odilon Sta. Teresa, who bankrolled Grace Poe’s failed presidential bid in 2016, was among the top donors of Lakas-CMD, contributing P20 million. He was once executive vice president of a telecommunications company that bagged a government contract for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Some news articles identified him as chairman of Brightcorp, an operator of quick-serve motor vehicle service centers.

Another entrepreneur on the list is Lowell Sy, president of plastic molding product manufacturer Philippine Industrial Carbonics Inc. as of 2015.

Top Lakas-CMD donor: People with ties to Benguet Corp.

People who have held top posts in mining firm Benguet Corp, which is tied to the Romualdez family, also donated to the Lakas-CMD campaign.

They are:

Top Lakas-CMD donor: Seasoned lawyers

Multiple top lawyers of two law firms donated to Lakas-CMD for the 2022 elections. They are:

  • Edgar Dennis Padernal – partner at Andres Padernal and Paras (APP) Law Offices
  • Jesse H.T. Andres – managing partner at APP; former undersecretary for the Office of Vice President Noli de Castro; now justice undersecretary
  • Romeo L. Go – partner at APP Law Offices; former commissioner of the National Labor Relations Commission
  • Jose Raulito Paras – partner at APP Law Offices
  • Isaiah Asuncion III – partner at DivinaLaw
  • Floro Balato Jr. – partner at DivinaLaw
  • Nasha Reyes – senior associate at DivinaLaw
  • Jeff Magsombol – senior associate at DivinaLaw

Other notable names on the list of Lakas-CMD’s donors are Mikey Arroyo, son of former president and House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; and Kristoffer Purisima, former president Duterte’s Office of Civil Defense deputy administrator who was sacked in 2020 for “lack of trust and confidence.”

Below is the full list of Lakas-CMD’s campaign donors:

Sara Duterte won the 2022 vice presidential race with a 61% vote share or around 32 million votes, the highest for any politician in Philippine election history.

WHO’S WHO: The top campaign donors of Sara Duterte, Lakas-CMD

– Rappler.com

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.