I posted in our blog a couple of years back how to minimize or eradicate vote buying in our country during elections. One ideal solution is to educate voters how important our right of suffrage is. It is our obligation as a citizen in our country to participate in an honest to goodness election that in the long run could shape up the shattered bits of our Philippine politics.
According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, “we can educate voters as much as we can, but we cannot legislate good behavior”. I totally agree with Mr. Jimenez, but how can we eradicate or perhaps lessen the impact of vote buying and voter behavior?
Vote buying usually occurs in a hot contested barangay and municipalities where voters are nominal in counts. Poor electorate or poverty stricken areas are more susceptible to vote buying. A single candidate will see to it that voters receive monetary consideration during the election period, spending millions of peso budget for that purpose ranging from PHP 100.00 to a PHP 1,500.00 per voter in the rural communities. Two Million Pesos in a PHP 500.00 each for a mere 4,000 population of registered voters in a small municipality.
In a partisan politics, usually a party will set aside a certain bigger budget to buy votes in return for a block vote in favor to the members of the whole party. Therefore, a contesting group with huge financial machineries will make sure that the highest bid is realize in favor to their respective parties.
It is also normal that a monetary favor can influence the result of votes even in areas where populations are of consanguinities to each other. “Money is thicker than blood” shall we say are more important in Philippine election rather than what a sincere relative or a candidate can offer for the progress of their locality in general. Recent elections in the Philippines revealed that at least a major and well organized parties bought votes during election.
The Comelec has a well in place guidelines, punishments and other prescribed measures to be taken based on the complaints of vote buying, however the sweet smell of victory by any means doesn’t stop politicians from buying votes especially when automated voting system is introduced in the country.
Vote buying doesn’t only corresponds of directly offering or accepting cash monies on the spot, it means “Any person who promises money or anything of value in order to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election.”
The Comelec admits in the rappler.com online article that “with the automated voting system in the country, candidates could no longer influence canvassers and teachers on the outcome of the election report, since machines do the work, so politicians and their coordinators had to focus on what they could affect and that’s through vote buying.”
In order to control vote buying, non-government organizations and concern citizen who still believes that our votes are sacred should be vigilant during the election period. Who are those in target for monitoring? Coordinators or individuals connected to political parties or candidates and so with our population at large should be monitored. Report those electoral payoffs and identify those persons involved and file a complaint with the Comelec. Don’t forget to use the high technology gadget in reporting those to be implicated, such as photos of the transaction, taped conversation that can be uploaded to social working sites, blogs and media as well. Politicians mobilize propagandas during campaign periods in networking sites and why we could not mobilize ourselves in exposing politicians who buy votes and voters accepting monies in favor of their votes?
Once and for all, to avoid vote buying, the continuing voter education should be focused at an early school age of every Filipinos. The school is the best venue and student participation in the primary and secondary levels in choosing their student leaders is a must that will represent the student organ in the governance of the Academe; with emphasis on choosing the right candidates that could eventually become the future leaders in our country.
Politicians choose one form of electoral investment strategy – the VOTE BUYING and the result can affect the lives and welfare of the poor Filipinos and the country as a whole. “NO TO VOTE BUYING! BE VIGILANT, REPORT AN ELECTION FRAUD!” – BongA