Truth be told, I could not help but take Sen. Loren Legarda less and less seriously as a politician, following her latest actions. I am specifically referring to her latest order to pullout all her billboards, featuring her as the endorser of a whitening supplement. This is after the Bureau of Food and Drugs discovered that the supplement did not contain the amount of glutathione as claimed in its labels.There is a certain degree of appropriateness to the order, even if it is only largely seen as a move by Legarda to save face and do damage control. After all, she does have quite an image to protect, particularly as a leading presidentiable for 2010. But what I find extraordinarily ridiculous is her claim that she is having the billboards removed because of her advocacy for consumer welfare and protection.
In a statement, Legarda says, “As an advocate of consumer welfare and protection, Legarda declared that she will not tolerate misrepresentation of facts by any importer, distributor or manufacturer of consumer products that tend to deceive the consumer.”
But what advocacy? If Legarda were a truly good advocate, she should have done her homework first, and checked if the brand really deserved her endorsement. As a senator and a graduate of communication, she should have realized all the implications in endorsing any product, since consumers do trust her, and are willing to spend hard-earned money on a product she stakes her credibility on. As a former journalist, who is supposed to be keen on details, she should have checked the background of the product first, instead of signing up just for the free advertising for 2010. Otherwise, she and other endorsers of allegedly bad products, without their realizing it, become part of the conspiracy to trick and mislead ordinary consumers. Endorsers of products have a responsibility to not just to be loyal to what they endorse (they are under contract after all), but also to study the products first.
Of course, this brings up again to the more important, neverending question: Should politicians endorse products? Politicians, especially those positioning themselves for 2010 claim there is nothing illegal, claiming that it does not break any election laws. But are the endorsements ethical nevertheless? Where is the delicadeza? Well, don’t expect a good answer from those endorsing presidentiables. And they shouldn’t expect our votes either.