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Massive vote-buying in Eastern Samar

/ 12:14 AM June 02, 2016

Let me tell you about my own experience in the recent elections, when I cast my vote in my hometown Taft, Eastern Samar. I witnessed rampant vote-buying, and not writing about this antipeople, antidevelopment practice would be like tolerating it, which I cannot accept. Yes, vote-buying prevented voters from choosing highly qualified candidates to lead our province.

The giving out of cold cash by candidates a day or days before the elections has become a chronic plague in our place. The peddling of votes has become a way of life for many. When candidates give away P500 or P700 or more in exchange for votes, as against the P200 and P500 by their rivals, could any one expect a fair outcome?

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For many of the winners in the cities and towns—mayors, vice mayors and councilors —money was the primary factor in their victory. Sadly, many deserving candidates lost in many towns in Eastern Samar.

Indirect vote-buying was common, too, and this favored those in power. Government posts, teaching slots and even promotions had to be endorsed by this and that politician, which worked to the disadvantage of those with no “backers.” When election time came, the endorser had the clout over the beneficiary and his/her immediate family.

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Running a public office, purportedly with the intent of serving the people, has become a business venture that guarantees huge returns of investment. How can elected officials serve with a pure and noble intention when they had to buy votes in order to win. And do you think these officials will be able to recover the “investments” they made to clinch victory in in the next three years, with just their salaries?

No wonder, our people have been deprived of the basic services they deserve to enjoy, like passable roads, well-equipped hospitals, school buildings.

By the way, our province is very rich in natural resources but it is among the poorest provinces in the Philippines. Income-generating projects must be implemented. Vast idle lands need to be tilled. Farmers have to be exposed to modern farming to achieve high food production. Irrigation facilities should be provided. Ours are pristine beaches along the Pacific Ocean that can be developed into tourist destinations. Most of all, good roads must be in place. Are all these not doable?

I tend to believe that the eradication of poverty will lessen the high incidence of vote-buying.  Financially able people are more independent. No amount of money can buy their precious votes. And when people don’t sell their votes, they can demand for quality service from those they voted into office. Which I am doing now.

—BELEN DOCENA-ASUELO, [email protected]

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TAGS: Eastern Samar, Elections 2016, vote buying
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