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Towards an enlightened future with no vote-buying

 

EDITORIAL edt

AFTER the winners in the last elections have been determined and proclaimed, public discussions are bound to follow on some issues that cropped up during the campaign.

Vote-buying became a prominent issue in this election, with so many arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for allegedly buying and selling votes for various amounts from P300 to P500. This is a crime so difficult to substantiate that conviction in court is unlikely.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) organized a “Task Force Kontra Bigay” with the Philippine National Police, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, to speed the investigation of vote buying and the prosecution of the accused.

On the Saturday before the election, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) reminded the public that it is a sin to sell one’s vote. But it seems to have become part of the country’s election culture, it said. “It somehow confirms a breakdown of the moral values of Filipinos,” it added.

President Duterte himself got into the discussion at a rally in Davao when he told supporters it is OK to accept money for transport fare to attend a rally. He also criticized “unrealistic” regulations of the Comelec against providing food and other financial assistance to local supporters and local leaders of candidates.

The fact is it is difficult to draw the line between helping voters attend a rally and buying their vote. Candidates are prepared to spend for a campaign and people are grateful for any assistance they receive, elec­tion or not.

Voters have a myriad reasons for choosing a candidate, including what they perceive will be good for the country as a whole. But they also see a personal benefit – such as help in getting a job and in getting support for a basketball court – as a good reason to support a candidate. Would that be vote-selling?

It is truly a difficult question. There may be a day sometime in the future when voters will vote for a candidate solely on what they think is best for the country as a whole. We have not quite reached that enlightened stage. We can only hope that we are moving in that direction.

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