PAMPANGA

Sangil: Buy and sell

FIVE more days remaining. Count to five. Sleep peacefully through the nights and the morning of May 13, wake up, ready your codigo and look for your voting precinct. VOTE! It is required of you as a citizen of this country. And vote wisely. It doesn’t necessarily mean though once you voted who you believe are the right leaders, they will emerge as the victors. It is all right. Any human contest is like that. You did your duty as a citizen. And please don’t compromise yourself by selling your conscience.

Vote buying has worsened this election year compared to the previous. And the vote buying rate slightly differs in some towns or cities. The price starts from P500 per to P1,000, and sometimes go as high as P2,000.

Candidates today in hotly contested areas are showing extra aggressiveness compared to the 2016 elections. They go wholesale, meaning buying a family household with 5 voters as high as P5,000. And while these are happening in several towns, cities and provinces in the country, the officials of the Commission on Elections can just shrug their shoulders and keep warning both candidates and the public. Hanggang doon lang. Puro warning lang. And nobody listens. Inutile.

Why do most candidates resort to buying their way into political offices? Inherently and historically, you cannot win an election in this country if not backed up by much logistical support. That’s the inconvenient truth. Ask any candidate. I can presume that in a mayoral or a congressional position, it will require the candidate to dig deeper into his pockets and a P50-million budget may not even be enough.

An election is the presentation of people who will govern and are mandated to work for the people’s welfare. That’s what the public will hear from speeches of candidates during their campaign rallies. But with the consent of the governed, some are willing to exchange for few pesos their sacred right and privilege.

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Some newspapers assume there’s an ignorant public that their articles deserve appreciation. This is about the issue on political dynasties that grew dramatically in this country over the past two decades. Most contemporary writers now are expressing their opposition to the lifting of terms. I am making a stand. I am for the lifting of terms. Editorial writers should at least point out that all “constitutions of countries are drawn differently in different societies and different periods of their history”. I am old enough to know that past elections in the Philippines were held every four years and there were no term limits for all elected officials except for the president of the Republic who can only seek one re-election of a four year term. It was when Congress instituted a three-term limit that started the growth of political dynasties in the country. After three terms, the wife or the adult kids, despite their lack of interest in politics, are shoved inside the political arena.

And to top it all, they made it difficult for qualified but not moneyed individuals to participate in the elections. The elections are held every three years. Once elected, and still warming your seat on the second year in office, campaigns will start again. In the month of October, filing of the certificates of candidacy (COC) starts and you are again a candidate, a fair game to solicitations of favors. In the early years, elections were held in the month of November. It was transferred to the month of May. And the preceding months before polling time can be most expensive to a candidate. Pabasa during Holy Week, basketball tournaments, dance parties, Santacruzan and many others happened during the hustings. A candidate must stuff his pockets with cash to donate to all these activities, otherwise say goodbye to your aspiration. Mamumura ka pa, kapag hindi ka nagbigay.

This has been my position then, and I am just reiterating it now. My personal view is to revert to the old election system. It will at least increase even a bit the chances of not moneyed candidates who aspire to be in politics. The political dynasties grew by leaps and bounds since we adopted the prevailing system now. And it became a business enterprise for many political families all over the country. They are raking it in.

The adoption of the multi-party system is another culprit. If the political landscape is a garden, you can see very often butterflies changing their colors, depending on the season. Today’s politicos seemingly are already immune to any feeling of embarrassment when they change political parties. They change for convenience. It is baloney if you hear them saying they entered politics because they want to serve the public. The truth is, they are there for the money and influence. And there are many of them. How sad.


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