Election spending

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Thursday, June 26, 2014


JUST a couple of days ago, I came upon a friend who works for a local government office. He was sitting in his office, scratching his head and uttering expletives I did not expect him to say. When he had somehow gotten his bearing back and settled down, he turned to me.

How in the world could anyone think of making a receipt of even a fifty-peso expense when you are at the height of a campaign?

Well, it seems that my friend had received communication from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) asking his boss to submit a detailed report of their expenses in the last elections, itemized including the receipts of the cost. How could anyone in the middle of a political campaign in the barangay ever think of keeping receipts, or instruct an aide to do so?

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If you are campaigning for, say, Congress, Provincial Board, municipal mayor, or for the local municipal council, would you take the trouble of listing down a five-centavo bunch of boiled banana for a kid who tagged your back? How would it look giving the kid the bunch and at the same time write down the cost?

But that is what I have been told the government’s guardian of the elections expense has asked the candidates to do, from the President all the way down to the barangay councilmen.

This well and good. It could prevent buying of votes, unless a candidate is prepared to spend for the election at any cost, and win. One can do it and open himself to being sued after the polls.

I might be an election alarmist. Perhaps, no one would dare charge a winning candidate for over-spending in an election. On the other hand, who would really sue one who won in the campaign for having over-spent, unless he has created such political opponents who cannot stand seeing him strut around as a winner.

Well, the point here really is that we are conducting our elections in the true democratic way, where the people are able to express their choice of leaders at will and freely at no cost to them. That is really the way of a democracy, people expressing their freedom of choice without the pork barrel of the candidates.

But then, where did we ever learn how to use the pork barrel during elections? There is a tie-up between “pork” and “ballot.

There is, then, a real need for such an agency as the Comelec to show that the politics we live by and pay obeisance to is according to the ways of democracy.

But then, human as we are, in every activity where there is competition, the desire to excel, the need to win, or to survive the competitive struggle, would always emerge as motivating factor. The ways of the Comelec in asking for detailed receipts of election expense is dilatory.

And anything that tend to deviate the effort to achieve success in a competition becomes obstructive, even if it is meant to secure the integrity of such democratic activity as an election. Still, given the human desire to excel, detailing election expense receipts can be truly annoying, indeed.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 27, 2014.

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