Don’t sell your vote, Big Brother is watching
It’s E Day, the second most important day for Filipinos, next to Christmas. So go out and vote. It’s not only your right, it’s also your duty.
But don’t vote for just anybody. Choose your candidates well. Choose those with good moral character, with good sensible platforms, and who are well-educated. Prefer those who favor the abolition of the pork barrel, because that means they recognize that the pork barrel is a waste of the people’s money and is a root of corruption. Also, prefer those who are not members of political dynasties. Dynasties are very bad for us. Choose those who are running against dynasties.
And don’t sell your vote. You can go to jail for not less than two years if you are caught. Remember, anybody with a cell phone can take a picture of you—which can be used as evidence in a court trial—receiving money or goods. And you can be sure that opposing candidates will have supporters surreptitiously taking pictures of their rivals’ workers handing out envelopes with money or bags of rice or groceries. And you may be paid with counterfeit money, of which there is plenty circulating.
All right, so you desperately need money and groceries to feed your hungry family. So go ahead and accept them (and run the risk of being caught and prosecuted) but don’t vote for the candidate who tried to bribe you. That means he is not of good moral character. He intends to steal our money once he is elected. How else would he get back his enormous expenses to get himself elected? He does not deserve your sacred vote.
If you resist the temptation to accept money for your vote, you will be rewarded with that rare feeling of pride and well-being for being an upright and responsible citizen. And you can sleep peacefully at night.
The easiest fund to steal from is the pork barrel, deodorized as the Priority Development Assistance Fund. This is the fund supposed to be spent for the projects of legislators, such as roads, textbooks, scholarships, barangay halls, basketball courts, health centers, schools, etc. But the money does not all go to these projects. Half of it is stolen by the legislators, public works engineers, treasurers and cashiers, contractors and other greedy people. And that’s your money they’re stealing.
In yesterday’s Inquirer, the separate stands of all the senatorial candidates on the issue of pork barrel were reported. The following candidates are for the abolition of the pork barrel: Casiño, Cojuangco, De los Reyes, Falcone, Hontiveros, Llasos, Maceda, Madrigal, Montaño, Penson, Señeres, and Villanueva. That should guide you whom to bless with your vote today.
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The rampant vote-buying on the eve of the elections shows why the money ban by the Commission on Elections is necessary. It is one way of preventing vote-buying. The Comelec order—shot down by the Supreme Court—bans cash withdrawals from banks in excess of P100,000 and P500,000 for regular business transactions immediately before the elections. That is to prevent politicians from having at their disposal large amounts of cash with which to buy votes.
We have laws against vote-buying and vote-selling, but because the practice is done surreptitiously, it is difficult to catch the buying and selling of votes, and the cheating and corruption continues. Because the voting and counting are now automated, politicians can no longer cheat the old way: that is by altering the vote tabulations. So what is left to them is massive and callous vote-buying.
The Comelec’s solution is the money ban. If the politicians have no cash on hand, then they cannot buy votes.
But the banks, thinking only of themselves, look at it as a curtailment of their banking rights. Businessmen see it as a hindrance to doing business. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Supreme Court agreed with them and stopped the implementation of the order.
So cheating will continue through massive vote-buying as we are witnessing now. The bankers and businessmen should have opted for clean elections instead of thinking only of themselves. In the first place, most big business transactions are done with the use of checks, not with cash. So regular business can go on even with the money ban.
One instance where large amounts of cash would be needed is for payrolls. But payday is already over and the next one would be two days after elections, and by then the money ban would have been lifted. For those paying on a weekly basis, the amount of cash needed rarely goes beyond P500,000. And even for those who would not be paid in full, relief would be only a few days away. Surely, they can afford the sacrifice to prevent cheating.
The high court should have seen the logic of the Comelec money ban. The justices could have acted like responsible statesmen by not meddling for a couple of days. After all, the responsibility of ensuring clean elections is with the Comelec. It is the expert and authority on election matters, not the Supreme Court.
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After the stress and excitement of the elections, you deserve to relax and de-stress. Do that by listening to sweet, relaxing music at the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel the day after tomorrow—May 15. That newest singing sensation, Margaux Salcedo, will sing sentimental favorites, old and new, popularized by the world’s best-known singers, from Frank Sinatra and Doris Day to the contemporary singers in the Broadway musicals.
If you are a winner in the elections, what better way to celebrate and be happy other than by listening to Margaux sing. If you are a loser, what better way to relax and nurse your wounds, to forget your hurt and disappointment other than by listening to sweet relaxing music. Music is a soothing balm to troubled souls.
Margaux’s show starts at 9.30 p.m.
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