Vote-buying: its impact on buyer and seller | Inquirer Opinion

Vote-buying: its impact on buyer and seller

/ 12:29 AM May 06, 2016

I would like to share a short essay which appeared in the Philippines Free Press in 1961. I wasn’t born then, but my grandfather, the late Aparri Councilor Reymundo F. Balisi, kept a copy of this essay in his file. I understand that vote-buying was rampant at the time.

Apparently things have changed little since. I still keep my grandfather’s copy of the essay, which I hope to show my children, who in turn I hope will keep it to show to their own children. The essay goes:

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“When you sell something, the buyer acquires the right to dispose of it as he pleases. He may sell it in turn to another, at a profit, or even destroy it.

“When you sell your vote, the same principle applies. The buyer is absolved of any obligation to serve you if he wins in the elections. By the sale of your vote, you give him the ‘right’ to do what he pleases in office. He may promote his interests, not yours. And have no doubt about it, he will.

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“Under the democratic principle, he is supposed to be your representative; he holds office as a public trust; he should promote your interests, not his. He assumes this obligation when you give him your vote—but not when you sell it to him. When you sell your vote, it is no longer democracy but commerce. The whole relationship between the people and the official changes. You no longer have any moral right to complain if he enriches himself at your expense; he has paid for the privilege.

“Those who buy votes do so in order to win, though they may not be qualified for office, though they had enriched themselves in. They buy votes so that they could go on using their office to get even richer. Certainly, they do not buy votes to retain the honor of the position, for how could honor be gained or kept dishonorably?

“To win, by buying votes, involves the expenditure of tremendous sums of money. It is an investment and a gamble. The financial returns must be commensurate to the risk. Nobody would gamble, would invest in a speculative stock for a mere 10 percent dividend. There are safer ways of investing the money if one were satisfied with a modest dividend. To risk millions for so modest a return is stupid. It would not be worth the risk.

“Having risked millions and won, the winner may be expected to get the money back somehow, and 10 times more. He may be expected to help himself to the resources of the nation. He will make himself even richer than he is, and his associates, and you poorer.

“The more he spends, the more he will take. Why shouldn’t he? You sold your vote. He paid for it.”

Now the question is, are we going to expect the same in the May 9 mid-term elections?

Between 1961 and 2016, we should have learned some very important lessons.

—REGINALD B. TAMAYO, assistant city council secretary, Marikina City

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TAGS: Elections 2016, vote buying
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