CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) insist they are not in a vote-buying spree as the May election nears.

But with recent moves that include increase in the number of beneficiaries to their summer job program, cash dole-outs to senior citizens and students and increase in the allowances given to judges, one has to be suspicious, at the very least.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

To be fair, Capitol officials and Rep. Eduardo Gullas are also fending off suspicions that politics is behind the giving of aid to fire victims and distribution of medicines and school supplies to certain beneficiaries.

But what officials in Cebu City are doing lately is getting more attention because of the amount of public money involved and the sudden surge of generosity.

Why only now?

It’s actually difficult for City officials to explain with a straight face the willingness to spend money for dole-outs when for more than two years projects like those related to basic services have been hard to come by.

The stock answer is that City Hall “has more money now,” which in turn begs the question of why time the generation of additional revenues in the months immediately before the start of the campaign period.

But then again, it’s not that this practice has not been done before by Osmeña and the BOPK and almost all incumbents who are either running for reelection or seeking new elective posts in every coming election.

Voters, too

That brings into focus the point that vote-buying is not one-sided.

Incumbents are pushed to find ways to use public funds to buy votes simply because the voters themselves oblige them---meaning, they vote for these erring officials instead of punish them for mishandling government money.

Or if “punish” is too big a word, at least voters should have followed the admonition of politicians of old: kan-a ang paon, iluwa ang taga (accept the dole-outs but vote according to conscience, nevertheless).

Until incumbents feel that voters can be bought, then this objectionable practice will continue to bedevil governance and our electoral system.