ELECTION Day is around the corner and as usual the law that insures free and fair elections is being violated many times over. Candidates are already overshooting the limit for campaign expenses with super expensive TV ads, countless posters, hand-outs of T-shirts, caps, food, and cash for transport and miscellaneous expenses of supporters.
Bundles of cash are also being readied now for handing out to leaders tasked with buying votes. As sure as the sun comes up tomorrow money will rain again on voters on or before election day.
In spite of Comelec’s posturing to the contrary, it is really powerless to implement a law that simply has too many technical loopholes.
Bottom line: elections in the Philippines can be reduced to the lowest essential term of the buying and selling of votes for the short term benefit of sellers and buyers but the long-term damage to the nation.
Let’s face it, this is shameful and disgraceful because on the deeper psycho-social level, we can now define our elections as the grossly immoral buying and selling of dignity and self-respect and the betrayal of the nation by both politicians and voters.
The sellers’ culpability might admit of some mitigation due to poverty and perhaps lack of education. But the buyers’ sale of their dignity and self-respect and their betrayal of the nation are only made more detestable by their education, wealth, and social prominence.
Those blinded on the sidelines by the immorality of vote-buying or who see it but refuse to be disgusted enough as to do nothing about it are equally guilty of selling their dignity and self-respect and of betraying the nation.
That makes us a nation of traitors who think nothing of buying and selling our dignity and self-respect. We all betray our nation either as seller or buyer of votes or as numbed bystanders that do nothing about it.
There is simply no quick way to stop something that a backward colonial culture has allowed to be perpetrated with impunity. I am not being a cynic but just realistic in contending that this immoral national pastime of vote-buying cannot be stopped by an oratio imperata or a pious exhortation like “don’t forget God when you vote.”
There is only a long and drawn out way. Lead personalities (parents, priests, educators) of religion and education must do a mea culpa for failure to grow a citizenry that values dignity, self-respect and patriotism. Next is atonement with reforms that effectively instill human values basic to a peaceful and prosperous life for all and not just a few.
Squaring up to this daunting cultural challenge could stop our slide towards self-destruction which is the only place loss of dignity and self- respect can lead to.