BACOLOD

Ombion: Manipulation-free exercise of right to suffrage

Perspective

THE daily long queue of voter registrants at Comelec Bacolod is not only eye catching for public, but has elicit curiosity for Bacolodnon and city visitors, and worse, a nightmare for city enforcers of health protocols as many have not been observing the measures especially social distancing.

Why the sudden torrent of tourist attraction-like exodus of voter registrants when election is still far, and pandemic is raging once more?

From some media sources, these people who wanted to transfer their voter's registration to Bacolod are mostly from cities and towns outside of Bacolod. Ay wow!

Of course, it is everyone's right to vote wherever they want so long as they are qualified and compliant of Comelec rules.

What attracted and triggered them to flock to Bacolod in such concentrated numbers and in seemingly coordinated fashion? Has this something to do with the rumored strategy of the reported plan of a former 3rd district congressman, and backed by his army of political partisans and landed elite politicians, to run for a top post in Bacolod?

If indeed true, this must be an admission that not only they don't have enough voting supporters in the city, they also want to test waters so to speak to establish whether or not such a strategy is viable.

This is also a revelation of how a number of provincial politicians have succumbed to the MMA (Money Muscle Areglo) politics of perceived kingmaker.

Then, this is rather a rude, shrewd and manipulative way of pushing people to exercise their right to suffrage according to the whims and idiosyncrasies of the powers that be.

More than contemporary politics, some past decades socio anthropological and political economy studies on Negros society have pointed to this classic example of the feudal and macho culture of a number of sugar lords (or barons according to others) that dominated most parts of Negros Occidental in the past century to early part of this century where they can do anything they want with their "sakadas", "trabajadores" and their families and kin living in their hacienda and makeshift encampment, and which in latter decades have also inflicted the mindset and values of the low paid, economically vacillating middleclass professionals.

This political control of citizens is actually not new to Bacolod, the province and some other provinces. Though this seems the first time for Bacolod that such magnitude and significance of voter registrants transfer cannot simply be ignored.

What if someone or some groups from Bacolod who might have interest to run or simply bastardize the electoral process in provincial cities and towns and in provincial posts, would also do the same -- export a few thousands of Bacolod voters to their preferred places?

For this, the Comelec, DILG, lawmakers and the investigative arm of media institutions, should establish the facts and motive behind the exodus of provincial voters to Bacolod.

I believe this is not a plain coincidence of a surprise strike of lighting, so to speak. This is a deliberate action as part of a bigger political picture.

It is also high time for the analytic and ethical social institutions like the academes, churches, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Culture and Arts and the cultural artists movement and the opinion makers to give a long view to the worldview behind the social practice of flexible right to vote in the context where powerful dynasties and moneyed kingmakers practically dictate and determine political actions or preferences of the people.

I couldn't care less who benefits from this analytics and proposition. I am more concerned how we ensure the exercise of democracy, and in particular, the exercise of right to suffrage, in this part of the country, free of intervention and manipulation by the powers that be.


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