Not non-partisan-A A +A
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
LAST Monday's barangay elections have again showed the bad side of our political process as it was marred with the usual massive vote-buying. We thought that it’s only in the presidential and midterm elections where vote-buying is practiced by politicians but it is also being done by some, if not majority of barangay candidates, especially those running for barangay captain.
In Metro Manila, the vote-buying rate was reportedly P1,000 per voter. In our locality, I was informed that the rate was P200 per voter for barangay captain and P100 for councilors. Those running independently had to shell out P50 or P20 per voter.
And it did not happen only in the urban barangays but in the rural areas as well. The usual practice in the mountain barangays is for candidates to butcher carabao or pigs and feed the voters before they go to the polling places. This is another form of vote-buying.
Running for a barangay position nowadays is costly. During the campaign period, candidates have to use their resources in hiring people to campaign for them and to rent vehicles for the nightly “pulong-pulong.” During the actual voting, candidates have to hire personnel to “help” voters locate their precinct and room number.
They also pay ward leaders and watchers who guard their votes during the counting.
This is not to mention the expenses incurred for the printing of campaign materials, which are mostly made of tarpaulins, and sample ballots.
Where did the candidates in the recent elections get the money used for the whole exercise? I know that some of them could afford it.
But if you are in their shoes, would you be willing to spend thousands or millions of pesos from your hard-earned money just for a barangay position? Can you recover that from your honorarium and allowances? I doubt.
Well, it is too judgmental if we accuse them of having an agenda that is why they run for barangay positions. Maybe they just want to serve. Dili man ta makasimba ug makakalawat kun unsay naa sa ilang huna-huna ug kasing-kasing.
In Cebu City, it is public knowledge that last Monday's elections were a proxy war between Mayor Michael Rama and Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) titular head Tomas Osmeña. It was a preview of the expected Rama-Osmeña showdown in 2016.
Both parties openly endorsed candidates and provided them with logistical support. As of this writing, it was not known yet who got the majority of the barangay captains.
So the notion that the barangay election is non-partisan is a misnomer. I think we should change that into an outright partisan political activity.
Because whether we like it or not, those running for barangay positions are already politicians. They submit themselves to a political exercise and they allow themselves to be used by politicians.
A partisan is a committed member of a political party. In multi-party systems, the term carries a negative connotation--referring to those who wholly support their party's policies and are perhaps even reluctant to acknowledge correctness on the part of their political opponents in almost any situation.
One proof of partisanship is the election of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president, who sits as ex-officio member of the council. Why should the ABC president identify himself with a party? Because he cannot be elected if he won’t join the majority party.
Look at outgoing Cebu City ABC president Mike Ralota. He is identified with BOPK and is one of the rah-rah boys of Tomas in the city council. When the ABC elects its new set of officers in the next few days, I am sure Mayor Rama will have his own choice for the presidency.
Is the election non-partisan when politicians poke their fingers into this purely barangay affair?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 30, 2013.