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Vote buying



POLITICAL experts and ana­lysts have collectively agreed that millennial votes in general would influence the 2019 elec­tion results. Many of their intel­lectual views and almost faultless dissection of issues, however, went slightly off the mark.

The dramatic end of some political dynasties is interesting news but even more interesting and disturbing was the massive vote-buying and prostitution of the elections nationwide, par­ticularly in the countryside. The Philippine National Police has af­firmed this reprehensible political aberration.

Vote-buying, which has dis­tressingly prostituted fair and correct people’s choice on whom to entrust public governance in recent elections, has turned into a creative and powerful political tool that has allowed money from dubious provenance to seep into our political exercises.

Dubious funds, in contrast to honest income earned from genu­ine business deals, can include ill-gotten wealth, money from drugs, laundered resources, immoral commissions from state projects, pork barrel, intelligence funds, cash from illicit gambling, lobby money, dubious endowments, spurious and non-existent ven­tures, and other filthy sources.

The implications of vote-buying are sure to impact in the way we view politics in future years. Not only will it create an impression that winning elections depends on how much money candidates have; it also institutionalizes the perception that even without competence, credibility or integ­rity, one can buy public office.

The deterioration of our sup­posedly democratic voting sys­tem can largely be blamed on the strong resistance by many lawmakers, most of them from political dynasties, to create laws that correct the deficien­cies and loopholes in our elec­toral laws.

While we have something to celebrate in the fast transmittal of the recent election results, this gain does not address the issue of swing votes from vote buy­ing, demonstrated in many areas where efficient and just officials have been dethroned.

The prevalence of vote-buying also unabashedly reflects the widespread insight that politi­cians who spend fortunes in elections are likely to dip their fingers in public funds. In short, running for public office on the strength of money carries an in­tent to recover political expenses through cheating and malversa­tion of people’s money.

Erasing this incentive to cheat while holding public office can be done, to start with, by removing intelligence funds from executive positions, getting rid of pork bar­rel, putting an end to corruption in the judiciary, and really tight­ening the noose against electoral frauds.