Villar dares rivals to name benefactors

PNS — Senator Manuel Villar dared his rivals in the presidential race to reveal who are funding their media advertisements and other campaign expenses after they criticized him for splurging on TV and radio commercials to get to the top of the survey ratings.

Villar said that relying heavily on contributors for campaign expenses entail a lot of risks because these financiers are likely to demand concessions for their investments once their chosen candidate wins the presidency.

“I am often asked how are you going to recover your expenses? But I said why don’t you ask the others because they are also advertising.

But who are spending for their ads? To me, these are the ones who will try to recover their investments,” Villar told a forum of the Makati Business club at the Dusit Hotel.” And I think it’s worse. Who are these people?”

“At least, in my case,” Villar said, “I am spending largely, I did not say completely, my own money.”

Villar said his ads are partly bankrolled by his friends and relatives, referring to the note “paid by the friends of Manny Villar” at the end of his infomercials. He did not name his friends.

According to an advertising study conducted by AC Nielsen Phils, Villar spent P453 million for TV, radio and print ads from October to December, 2009. This was a far cry from the P83 million that he spent for the same purpose in 2008.

Nielsen said Villar ranked no. l4 and the only individual among the top 20 national advertisers (mostly producers of consumer products) in print and broadcast during the three-month period.

Villar said that the risks involved are too great if a candidate will look at it (ad spending) as just an investment. He recalled that when Senator Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party joined the presidential race last September, he was 40 to 50 points ahead of him (Villar) in the surveys.

Villar said if his goal is to make more money, logically he should have concentrated on his real estate business and stayed out of the presidential derby.

“If running for president is a business, where I expect or intend to money, I should have quit (at that point) to cut my losses. But instead I am continuing.”

Villar said that if his intention in seeking the presidency is to make money, it must have been a very lousy investment.

This remark drew laughter and applause from the audience.

He stressed that he is pursuing his presidential bid “because it is about the fulfillment of a dream.”

In his speech, he also said that he cannot promise not to refrain from imposing new taxes because the next administration will inherit empty coffers.

He noted that the fiscal deficit this year is projected to balloon to over P300 billion or about 3.5 percent of the gross domestic product.