How Much Does It Cost to Get Elected?
Profile of a trapo’s war expenditures
A candidate for mayor
or representative to the Lower House has to spend around P73, 060, 000
($1,537,781). If s/he wins, how will s/he be able to recoup his/her
expenses? If others helped him/her to fund the campaign, to whom will
s/he be beholden to? Whose interests will s/he be serving if s/he won?
BY KARL G. OMBION AND MAX CORDERO
An independent group
in Bacolod advocating alternative politics to trapo (traditional
politician) politics computed how much a candidate running for a
congressional and mayoralty seat spends to get elected.
Payroll accounts for
the highest expenditure of politicians. As many as 6,000 ward leaders are
maintained by trapos. Ward leaders constitute the backbone of
election campaign organizations. They are the campaigners in the puroks
or barangays (villages) where they live. They receive a minimum of P2,
000 ($42.09 at an exchange rate of $1=P47.51) per month for three months
prior to the election. This alone costs P12 million ($252,578) per month
or P36, 000, 000 ($757, 735) for three months.
In between elections,
ward leaders of incumbent officials are hired as casuals, or job order
casuals, or holds office in the city's bureaucracy. If not, then the wife
or husband or any of the children of the ward leaders get the job. Casuals
are allocated jobs for a minimum of three months a year. Aside from the
casuals, there are 15-30 “ghost” employees hired by the city or
municipality. Trapos live on patronage politics and the incumbent
has the advantage, "To the victors go the spoils."
Precinct leaders are also maintained. They belong to a precinct and keep
tab of the voters in the precinct. They identify voter preferences and
concentrate their campaign on those who they can sway to vote for their
candidate. They focus on the undecided and determine the amount needed to
Bacolod City has
about 2,500+ regular precincts and 1,300+ clustered precincts. For the
sake of computation, the number of precincts is pegged at 3,000. Two
precincts leaders are maintained for the job. A precinct leader gets P1,
000 ($21) each multiplied by 6,000 leaders amounts to P6 million
($126,289) for one month or P18, 000, 000 ($378,867) for three months.
Barangay captains are also maintained. Generally, they are beholden to
candidates, especially the incumbents. There are 61 barangays in Bacolod.
A barangay captain is given a minimum of P50, 000 ($1, 052) during
elections, although some receive more. This totals P3, 050, 000 ($64,
Purok presidents are also included in the scheme of things. Assuming that
there are about 10 puroks per barangay and each president is given P2, 000
($42.09). The accumulated cost is P1, 220, 000 ($25, 678) for one month or
P3, 660, 000 ($77,036) for three months.
On election day, a candidate needs watchers. Two watchers are assigned to
each one of the 3,000 precincts. At a minimum of P500 ($10.52) per
watcher, the total cost is P3 million (63, 144). This does not yet include
the budget for the meals of the watcher.
The campaign needs sound systems for various campaign sorties. For the
45-day campaign period the cost for the sound system would amount to P1,
The candidate also spends for transportation. Campaigners need
transportation to go to various barangays, puroks and other areas.
On election day, vehicles are also hired to transport voters from
far-flung barangays to the voting place. Transportation costs amounts to
least P3 million ($63, 144).
Finally, the candidate must spend for streamers, posters, handbills,
leaflets and other campaign materials. Some of these are donated or
provided by friends, relatives, business associates and others who endorse
the candidate. The cost for these items is conservatively pegged at P5
million ($105, 241).
In sum, the minimum expenses of a trapo for an election are as
On this minimum
conservative figure, why is a candidate willing to spend this amount in an
election when the accumulated salaries of a mayor for a three-year term
amounts to P 2 million ($42, 096) and P3 million ($63, 144) for a
representative of the Lower House?
How would the mayor or House representative recoup his/her campaign
expenses? What are the “benefits” of winning in an election that political
clans are willing to kill for?
If these costs are
put up by businessmen, what are the pay backs?
Do voters really have
To the trapos
most voters are mere commodities for sale to the highest bidder. Some
voters do sell their votes because they feel that nothing comes out of
elections anyway so might as well make a profit out of their votes.
However, a number of
independent cursory surveys in Bacolod city and nearby provinces reveal
that the number of voters who vote on the basis of principles and programs
are increasing by the year, and after every election period.
Though still the
minority, mature voters are slowly making their presence felt. During the
2004 elections, Delia Locsin who is identified with groups working for
social reforms challenged the post of Governor Joseph Maranon. Although
she lost by a wide margin, many were still surprised that she got close to
a hundred thousand votes as against Maranon’s more than half a million.
When she filed her candidacy, many speculated that she would only get
between 30,000 to 50,000 votes.
who have the biggest command votes among the non-trapo forces
supported Locsin’s candidacy.
noted, the combined force of organized and non-organized non-trapo
forces could have increased by several fold as shown in the number of
people per district who campaigned for militant partylists and known non-trapo
Whether they will
make a big difference this time remains a big question. But political
observers here said that the fact that trapos are desperate to
increase their political war chest to as much as P150 million ($3, 157,
230) to P200 million ($ 4, 209, 640) may mean that the stakes are getting
higher and there are less votes available in the market.
Call for rejection of trapos and political dynasties
aspirant Andy Hagad, an independent candidate who belong to circles which
promote alternative politics said that the coming elections is the proper
time to reject trapos and all trimmings of traditional politics.
“In order to break
the stranglehold of these trapos in our political lansdscape we
must not vote for them on May 14, 2007. This way, we declare once and for
all, the message that we, the electorate, finally has come of age. Then
and only then, can we have the candidates with the best minds and with the
best intention to serve the needs of our people in 2010.”
“The time to shift our political paradigm is now. Let us not lose it,” he
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© 2007 Bulatlat
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