MANILA, Philippines - Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., chairman for Manila of the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD, claimed yesterday that the party is experiencing some kind of an El Niño dry spell in terms of campaign funds.
“There is also drought in the party. There are no logistics trickling down to the local level,” Abante told the Serye Café news forum in Quezon City.
He said that the Lakas-Kampi local candidates have a problem similar to that experienced by the party’s presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates, who lack money for their campaign.
“The congressional and local candidates, who will kick off their campaign on March 26, are hard up, too. There is no support coming from the leadership,” he said.
“It was different during the time of Speaker JDV (Jose de Venecia Jr.) as party president, when financial aid came almost every week,” he added.
Asked whether the ruling party has run out of funds and no contributions were coming in, Abante said: “I feel that there are funds. It’s just that these are not going down.”
Lakas-Kampi presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro Jr., his running mate Edu Manzano and their senatorial candidates have all complained of lack of campaign money.
Abante warned party leaders that if no financial support reaches the local level when the local campaign starts, Lakas-Kampi candidates for representatives, governor, mayor, and other posts would start looking for presidential aspirants that could address their problem.
“There will be an exodus to other political parties with a bigger war chest like Sen. Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party. That’s the reality of it,” he said.
Abante, however, said he does not think Lakas-Kampi leaders are making life difficult for local bets so they would abandon Teodoro and switch to Villar.
“I don’t think that is the case. I don’t believe those rumors - that Villar is the administration’s secret candidate for president,” he said.
Administration senatorial candidate Raul Lambino echoed Abante’s complaint in the same forum.
Lambino said except for giving them posters and calendars, the party has left its senatorial candidates to fend for themselves.
“Kanya-kanya kami (To each his own). I’m receiving support only from my relatives and close friends. I do not even know how I will distribute my posters and calendars,” he said.
He also complained that their campaign is disorganized largely due to lack of funds.
“Since the national campaign opened on Feb. 9, there was only one occasion when we campaigned as a group with our standard-bearer. This was the kickoff sortie in Antipolo,” he said.
Asked whether he is staying in the race, Lambino said: “I will continue the battle, but I don’t know if I can finish the war. Whatever happens, I remain committed to go all-out for Gibo.”
Manzano’s campaign manager Reli German had earlier complained that the support the vice presidential bet is getting from the ruling party is not enough for a candidate running a national campaign.
“It’s as if my candidate is running for mayor of a third-class municipality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, the eldest son of the President, said Lakas-Kampi is not bothered by the alleged funding problems.
“Lakas has the money. It is just that the party has to spend it wisely in such a way that no ruling of the Commission on Elections shall be violated,” he told The STAR last Thursday during the hearing of the House energy committee, headed by the young Arroyo, at the Apo View Hotel in Davao City.
Arroyo’s panel is investigating the Mindanao power crisis.
He said Lakas-Kampi is making sure that it would abide by the provisions of the Comelec on campaign spending.
“The Comelec has certain limits where spending is concerned. We do not want to go beyond what is allowed,” Arroyo said.
He explained that with a political machinery like Lakas, the corresponding funding requirements would also be huge, especially since the party would be fielding candidates down to the lowest local positions.
The party’s expenditures are expected to reach enormous levels within the next few days as it is reported to control more than 70 percent of the local government officials and the campaign period for the local level starts on March 26.
Other political parties have also reportedly been experiencing funding woes as contributions were hard to come by.
Former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general and Liberal Party senatorial candidate Ralph Recto said the recent global financial crisis has dealt an “El Niño” to the campaign funds for the May 10 polls.
This developed as the party-list groups Bayan Muna and Gabriela are struggling to keep up the senatorial campaign of party-list representatives Satur Ocampo and Liza Masa who are now conducting local campaigns nationwide. – With Edith Regalado, Perseus Echeminada