Monthly Archives: January 2016

On the 2016 Elections (3rd of a series)

Vote-Buying

How many of the registered voters in past elections can proudly claim that not even once that they sold their votes? Hard to say so it is difficult to choose which quantifier to use at the beginning of the next paragraph. Should it be all, many, some, several or a few? Just feel free to fill-out the blank.

_____ voters expect to be paid before they go the precinct to cast their votes.

Had this writer used all or many he may be accused of committing the fallacy of hasty generalization. Perhaps the safest to fill-out the blank with would have been some.

This is the other side of the coin. Politicians buy their way to victory because the voters are selling their votes. There’s a causality dilemma involved…the politicians are buying votes because the voters offered to sell them or the voters are selling their votes because the politicians offered to buy them. Either way, “it takes two to tango.”

This is the sad reality in the country’s  electoral process. Vote buying is rampant. It usually happens in the few days leading to the election day.

Let’s paint a scenario. Say there are 3 candidates for a mayoralty race in a town or city. All of them would offer a certain amount for each voter. The highest bidder will get the vote. The first candidate may be offering the usual P500 per vote but the second candidate who may promise P1000 would be preferred of course. However, if the third candidate would be willing to give P1,500 then he gets the nod of the voters, unless on the 11th hour one of the two other candidates will offer more than what the 3rd one promised.

The voter writes in the ballot the name of the candidate who gives him more money but gets to pocket as well all the amount promised by the other candidates. The total earnings of each voter would be the sum of the amount all the candidates promised. That’s only from the mayoralty bets. What about the money coming from candidates for other positions, national and local? Just do the Math. There’s indeed much money that circulate during elections.

Usually, the campaign leaders and trusted assistants of candidates are the ones going around to distribute the payroll. Supposedly, the wheeling and dealing are done discretely. Of course, none of the incumbent local and national officials will admit that they used their millions to secure their victory in the polls. They will deny it to death but only those who were born yesterday would say that stories about vote buying are not true.

The voters selling their votes thought that they have nothing to lose but a few thousand bucks to earn from what they’re doing not realizing that governance is a serious matter that should be put in the hands of the most qualified leaders and not in the dirty fingers of the ones using money for them to ensure victory during elections. Or probably they know, they just don’t care. The few bucks they would get is all that matter.

The voters selling their votes need to realize that they indirectly contribute to corruption in the government. The scheming politicians are just more than willing to spend millions during elections but they make sure they recoup the millions they spent for paying the voters and much more by getting involved in kickbacks and shady deals while in power and by dipping their hands into the coffers of the government. Only a few of them get caught in the process because they know how to work their way around existing laws and regulations.

More often than not that voters complain about the performance of local and national leaders. They forget the maxim that says…”You deserve the leaders you elect.” The electorate must always remember what Thomas Jefferson once said, “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

On The 2016 Elections (2nd of a series)

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How many of the country’s incumbent local and national officials can come forward and with a head held high say that they did not buy their way  to  victory?

The painful truth is that elections have turned out to be a business venture. Politicians are like businessmen who if they hope to win must be willing to make an investment.

How much should a politician invest? Do a rough estimate.

According to the Commission on Elections, there are roughly 56.4 million voters in the Philippines for the 2016 elections. Republic Act 7166 allows campaign expenses of P10 per voter for candidates for President and Vice-president and P3 for other candidates. But those who were not born yesterday know that candidates for national and local elections spend way much beyond what the laws allow.

There is a bill pending in the House of Representatives seeking to increase the allowable campaign expenses. If approved, presidential candidates will be allowed to spend P50 (vice-presidential and senatorial bets P35 and local candidates P30) for each voter.

But beyond what the statutes allow, a candidate has to dig deeper into his pocket if he hopes to win. Vote-buying is no longer a secret making this writer say that election now is nothing but a business venture. It is no longer the best and most qualified candidates getting elected but the ones who have enormous financial resources.

A candidate willing to pay at least P500 for every voter is likely to win. The percentage for winning gets higher if the one seeking an elective position has the capacity of making that amount higher…like P1000 for each vote.

Now, do the Math if you wish to know how much a candidate needs to prepare for his election bid. Include the amount needed for campaign advertisement, salaries of campaign leaders per geographical unit (province, town, city, barangay, districts or zones) depending on which position being sought, and other miscellaneous expenses. Don’t forget to add the amount a candidate is willing to pay for each voter (multiplied by the number of voters.)

For the millions of pesos those candidates extricate from their coffers what do they wish to get in return?

It’s not difficult to determine what drives people to run for election. It could be A, B or C with A being a political position is a business venture for which they expect to get returns for their investments and a whole lot of profit (How? Use your imagination!!!), B it being an opportunity to wield power allowing the one who holds it to protect personal and family interests and to advance other personal motives and agenda, and C love for public service.

The citizens who care are hoping it’s the C. For those who sell their votes it doesn’t matter whichever.

ON THE 2016 ELECTION (1st of a Series)

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Something tells me that whoever wins the 2016 presidential elections, the Filipino dream for a better nation will remain as it is… a dream.

Call it a bleak forecast but there is no reason to be optimistic. As the country inches closer to the next political derby there’s nothing that could be gleaned from the electoral process ongoing that would indicate that something new and better is about to come or happen. There’s nothing new… nothing better. In fact, everything we’re hearing and witnessing are “restored from the recycle bin.”

We have the same familiar faces dotting the nation’s political landscape…the same personalities who had slugged it out for national and local positions in the past are the same people who would lock horns in the 2016 elections. They have been the ones in whose hands the reins of government changed producing the same ABYSMAL socio-economic and political performance for the nation.

In case nobody has noticed these personalities come mostly from the same clans who have been lording it over in the political arena for decades now. Most of them are scions of powerful and wealthy Spanish mestizos… who happened to be the former colonial masters of the Filipinos. Some were former associates of the powers-that-were who became rich and powerful after getting their shares from the spoils of struggles for powers which they joined and won. There were also celebrities (movie and TV stars, singers, athletes, etc.) who took advantage of their popularity or that of their parents or siblings.

But there are also honest-to-goodness leaders who chiseled their political fame with hard work and the genuine desire to serve the people. They are few and far between though and much as politics is also a numbers game their call for change and reforms is like a voice in the wilderness.

It’s a tug-of-war among the personalities aforementioned, and whoever wins among them may just (if I may use this phrase again) “restore from the recycle bin” the same kind of leadership that has repeatedly failed to steer this nation to greatness. But in case the STUBBORN electorate will again make do of them, let them be given the benefit of the doubt (for the nth time).

These politicians who failed to lead the Philippines to a better standing in the community of nations keep seeking reelection. Unfortunately, notwithstanding their dismal performance as public servants they keep winning.

They keep winning because they have the M’s…manpower, machinery and MONEY. Money can buy anything, including VOTES.

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