Among 2022 bets, Robredo spends most on FB ads
By Cherry Salazar
Some politicians vying for national and local elective posts already spent millions on Facebook ads even before the campaign period, according to data from Meta’s Ad Library.
Among the five biggest spenders on the platform were two presidential bets and three candidates for senator — all of whom were incumbent officials.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who is vying for the presidency, spent a total of P14.1 million across three Facebook pages: the official “VP Leni Robredo” page, as well as “Team Leni Robredo” and “Dapat si Leni,” two pages prominently shared on her official page.
Following Robredo were Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who is seeking reelection, with P8.59 million; presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, P5.36 million; Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, who is gunning for a Senate comeback, P4.89 million; and detained Sen. Leila de Lima, P2.08 million.
The data covered ad spending from Aug. 4, 2020, or when Facebook’s transparency feature was launched in the Philippines, to Dec. 31, 2021.
Local candidates among top FB ad spenders
Candidates at the local level also coughed up about a million pesos to post ads on the platform. Eight of them were among the country’s top 25 spenders on Facebook political ads.
Ranking seventh overall, Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte spent P1.34 million on Facebook ads. His father, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte, placed P1.16 million worth of ads.
Both Villafuertes are running for congressional seats in separate districts and recorded no spending on their official pages beginning October 2021, or the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC).
Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Viña, who is joining the mayoral race in Cagayan de Oro City, was the 11th top spender, with ads amounting to P1.14 million.
La Viña is the former social media director of Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 presidential campaign. Under Duterte’s administration, he was appointed commissioner of state insurer Social Security System (SSS), undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Tourism (DOT), and administrator of Misamis Oriental-based Phividec Industrial Estate, a government-owned and -controlled corporation.
Other local candidates who made it to the list of 25 biggest Facebook ad spenders were Leyte Rep. Lolita Karen Javier with P1.22 million; Navotas mayoral bet John Rey Tiangco, P743,427; Navotas congressional candidate Lutgardo “Gardy” Cruz, P723,293; Pangasinan congressional candidate Christopher de Venecia, P683,069; and Kawit (Cavite) mayoral bet Boy Blue Aguinaldo Abaya, P525,828.
Dumper PTDA Rep. Claudine Bautista was the lone party-list nominee on the top spenders list. By the end of 2021, Bautista had spent P566,684 worth of ads on the platform.
Election monitors are expecting social media to play a more prominent role in the coming polls, especially as the pandemic threat continued to restrict mobility and mass gatherings.
Facebook is among the most used social media sites in the country. The Ad Library is a public database of ads that ran on the platform owned by the company that now goes by the name Meta. It provides details, such as the content of the ads, how much was spent to boost the ads, and who were targeted to see the ads.