To the victors go the spoils!
posted 23-May-2018  ·  
1,353 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

“Very peaceful vote-buying.”

Like in previous elections, Monday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls were marked by the widespread buying of votes by candidates for barangay captain, kagawad and SK chairman.

There were a few who chose not to use money and instead stood on their qualifications and platforms of governance to convince the people to vote for them. Some of them actually won, a testament to the fact that many voters still recognize the wisdom of choosing qualified candidates.

But their numbers are few.

As expected, the vast majority of voters took the money ranging from P20 to as much as P1,500.00 in highly-contested villages where families and pride clashed. The less financially-able bets had to make do with shampoo sachets or 3-in-1 instant coffee while those with financial backing who wished to somehow salve their conscience gave away packs of rice and noodles.

As of Monday evening, there was only one report of a vote-buying incident that actually reached the police station. Social media also featured posts of vote-buying evidence, a candidate’s campaign flyer stapled with P100 bills.

While there were sighs of disappointment on Facebook on the sorry state of the elections on this side of the country, there was no general sense of outrage among the voting population.

Indeed, the culture of selling votes has become so ingrained among Catandunganons that some voters have actually encouraged disinterested individuals in their barangay to run against the favorite candidate just to ensure the latter would engage in vote-buying. The money is there for the taking, people are wont to reason, otherwise it will be kept by the ward leader.

A research of vote-buying in Metro Manila that was published only last February 2018 suggested that goods or money is not the deciding factor in voting for the candidate. The study stated that this supports the premise that vote buying is just part of a bigger effort by politicians to build clientelism and patronage among constituencies.

“Dependency and loyalty is merely punctuated by election-related transfers, rather than an effort to completely change votes,” researchers Tristan Canare and Ronald Mendoza, both of Ateneo de Manila University, and Mario Antonio Lopez of the Asian Institute of Management.

Their conclusion is somehow supported by the results of past local elections in this province, when some candidates won despite giving lower amounts to voters than their rivals. But the researchers’ contention that goods or money is not the deciding factor in the voting would not hold in closely-fought elections where the winning margins are expected to be slim. The spectacle of droves of a candidate’s supporters going over to the other side to switch loyalties at the last hour is all too familiar to the jaded Catandunganon voter.

Barring the unlikely mass extinction of unscrupulous candidates and voters, voter buying is here to stay in this Happy Island. With the voter-buyers’ triumph comes three years of stealing through commissions from suppliers and contractors, with only muffled complaints from the largely bought public. Just like in olden times, to the victors belong the spoils!


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