Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, who intends to run for the Senate this year under his family-dominated but largely discredited Liberal Party (LP), is among the numerous traditional politicians currently engaged in premature political campaigning. His expensive political advertisements that endorse him as “an economist badly needed by the country” is all over prime-time television.
Undoubtedly, that’s premature campaigning because the official campaign period begins in February.
The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that such advertisements do not constitute premature campaigning as long as they do not urge the audience to explicitly vote for the politician endorsed in the advertisement. The campaign rules, the SC said, apply only during the actual election campaign period set forth in the law.
Sure, the Mar Roxas advertisements may not be in violation of the law, but it is a blatant disregard for the rationale behind the legal restrictions on political campaign activities during the campaign period.
One rationale is to limit the campaign expenditures of politicians, especially those with hefty campaign funds. The accepted theory is that a candidate who spends much during the campaign will, in all likelihood, do everything to recover his or her expenses from the public money entrusted to public officials. The law calls that corruption.
Being an educated individual, Roxas is definitely aware of the rationale. His awareness notwithstanding, Roxas has chosen to look the other way and to take advantage of his seemingly endless campaign funds, as seen in his expensive television advertisements on primetime television.
Roxas may not be aware of it, but by spending large sums of money on those premature campaign advertisements on television, Roxas has managed to confirm to the public that, unlike other politicians, he has big sums of money to spend over a protracted election period.
As a purported economist, Roxas must be aware as well that campaign expenditures are financial investments towards a particular objective, the Senate in this instance. From the economic perspective, therefore, Roxas should know that returns are expected from any investment, i.e., the principal and the corresponding profit.
So far, Roxas is already spending plenty on his television advertisements, and he is sure to spend even more during the actual election campaign period. How does Roxas intend to recover his investments if and when he is elected to the Senate?
One possible way of avoiding that question is for Roxas to say that the returns he expects from his expensive senatorial quest is the opportunity to serve the people. Coming from a traditional politician, that is plain and simple hogwash because nobody in his right mind, especially one who comes from a business-minded family like Roxas, will be willing to spend big money without good reason.
Besides, if public service is what Roxas really has in mind, he does not need to run for the Senate and spend large sums in the process. He can, for instance, consider putting up a public hospital for the government or upgrading existing public school buildings which will be less costly in the long run.
Roxas will probably say his campaign funds come from contributions of friends and supporters. That is, however, beside the point. Big money used for the campaign, whether from Roxas’ own pocket or from donations from allies and well-wishers, is still big money and some people somewhere, somehow will still want a return on their investments.
LP apologists claim that Roxas should not be faulted for his premature political campaigning on television because there are many other politicians likewise engaged in premature campaigning. That excuse is hollow.
If the LP claims to be a party of principles, then it should refrain from premature campaigning precisely because of the rationale behind campaign restrictions, as discussed above. Even if other political parties and their politicians refuse to be principled, the LP and its main man Roxas, should not do any less. From all indications, however, the LP and Roxas have not graduated from low grade traditional politics.
Most telling, of course, is that Roxas, who wants to be a lawmaker in the Senate, is openly circumventing the rationale behind political campaign restrictions embodied in the election laws. That speaks much of Roxas, a candidate for lawmaker who has no serious regard for the law.