Business and politics make strange bedfellows

"Who else could give such funds to politicians except those identified with Big Business?"


Amid a free-for-all for the Speakership of the House of Representatives, is it true that Big Business is among those providing financial support to some candidates for the country’s fourth-highest political position?

One prominent businessman is rumored to be funding the campaign of a congressman who supported a presidential candidate in 2016. Both switched their support to then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte when the latter ran under PDP-Laban. 

Duterte swept the presidential elections, but the other candidate landed first in the province of the congressman. This candidate repeated this feat in May this year.

In 2016, the businessman is said to have provided that candidate with a P1-billion initial campaign fund.

The rumored involvement of Big Business in the race for House Speaker raises questions on government’s regulatory functions considering the number of mega-projects now undergoing bidding or review processes by various agencies. These are big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Build Build Build program. 

Observers feel that the involvement of Big Business in leadership contests could affect regulatory agencies of the government. The Cabinet economic cluster headed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has complained that PSALM had to borrow P20 billion last year and another $1 billion last May to pay off its maturing obligations, and spent an additional P3 billion to pay  interest and other costs for these loans, because of PSALM’s uncollected bills from power companies.

The role of Big Business in funding political campaigns was highlighted recently when former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez revealed that the top candidates for the Speakership are tapping the support of big funders because they must be willing to shell out between P500,000 and P1 million per vote for each of the 300 incoming House members, which he said he cannot do because he was not approached by any of the funders.

This was followed by the revelation of Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Sr. of PDP-Laban that some congressmen have received offers of as much as P7 million in exchange for securing the votes for some of the candidates for Speakership. 1Pacman Partylist Rep. Michael Romero, head of the group of party-list congressmen in the incoming 18th Congress, also confirmed that one party-list congressman has been offered a P7-million bribe in exchange for a commitment to vote for one of the candidates for Speaker.

With 303 members in the 18th Congress, a candidate for Speaker needs to secure at least 152 votes to win. At P1 million each, 153 votes could mean expenses of P153 million for the prospective Speaker. At P7-million each, a new Speaker may need to shell out a staggering amount of P1.1 billion. And who else could give such funds to politicians except those identified with Big Business?

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Topics: House of Representatives , 18th Congress , Aurelio Gonzales , Rodrigo Duterte , Pantaleon Alvarez
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