Vote buying-A A +A
Saturday, November 2, 2013
A DAY after the barangay elections last Oct. 28, news all over the country was about results of the voting as “generally peaceful.”
This Comelec phrase was carried in headlines, quoted and copied
unquoted. I can imagine in the interview of Comelec officials what they answered when asked again by news reporters, “Generally peaceful?”
Minor incidents, no voting problems, “almost none.” Kinda successful for being peaceful?
I was in my early teens and too young to vote when the country held the infamous 1949 election, one of terrible fraud and terrorism.
And that was a chilling thing to happen to the young in a lifetime—like for me, even if I just learned most about it from stories told by the family.
My parents were in an evening rally in the plaza near Carbon with Nacionalista presidential opposition candidate Jose P. Laurel as guest speaker when goons, said to have been hired by the Liberal Party of Elpidio Quirino, started shooting in the air, my mother recalled. A stampede took place.
The guests on stage, where my parents were, dropped on the floor and crept down the stairs, their heads leading in the slide down. There were no casualties because the goons scampered away when the stampede began. Besides, it was in an open space referred to as the old plaza.
When changes came in the wake of the next election as the people and leaders learned such painful lessons, the country went back to peaceful elections. And this condition is what we have in mind when we listen to the Comelec say “No problems, there’s almost none.”
Country-wide, there’s a recent report of only 18 “peace, security and other elective-related incidents.” Are we happy that we only have vote-buying, not death threats in some places, to deal with?
How can Comelec workers catch politicians vote-buying, even while it’s difficult to catch buyers using a way to tempt votes other than giving cash?
In the cyber sources I came across, vote-buying is the “distribution of a material benefit to an individual voter in exchange for support in a ballot.”
The matter of vote-buying could be money, lighters, fans, mugs, even cigarettes! Or a lechon party on the eve of the voting, yes. Votes could be “any item of value offered by a candidate and accepted by a voter in exchange for his or her vote.”
A political leader in Isabela was dismissed by Comelec in this election for vote-buying, said the news on Oct. 8. This one was due to the fact that he distributed sacks of rice, even hogs, besides cash. Arrests for vote-buying have been made. The charge would be one to six years imprisonment.
The guilty would have no right to vote, even as he can’t run for any office anymore.
The parties and the gift-giving go on like a regular date, especially in the rural areas. It’s normal that families and clans talk about the latest amounts available from the candidates.
Take the simple story of Elena, a 31-year-old helper who went back to her barangay Tangub in Pinamungajan town last Oct. 28 to vote for her barangay captain who is incidentally an “ig-agaw.” She walked and waded through a lake to the school where the voting took place, spending an hour up and down hills in a self-inspired after-lunch trip. On her way back to the family hut (“didto sa bukid gyud”), she was given P50 for the voting.
But in how many poll places does money change hands, like normal living? If Elena got only P50 since it was only barangay elections, another voter got P300, and others got P500. This is not to mention the lechon and pansit party, and the nice feeling of bonding with relatives and friends on a day, like a fiesta.
A bigger vote-money depends on the capability of the voter to lead in the community. Perhaps the amount could also certainly determine the way a voter votes. Or the sense of righteousness works for another, like the voter I interviewed who said he really votes for the buyer or else, “Gaba-an ta. Mosakit pa lang akong tiyan, uy!”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 03, 2013.