“Buy and sell of that one precious vote” – OFF CAM by Arlyn Dela Cruz
Nothing should shock me anymore especially with anything and everything that has something to do with politics and elections.
I am in this industry for 29 years now and I have covered elections both local and national since 1992. This year’s election is my 10th.
Whenever I go to a province it is second nature for me that I engage ordinary citizens in conversations. Consider it my Man on the streets, MOS minus the camera or any recorder.
Just the other day, this tricycle driver in a city down south was very candid in talking to me about the upcoming election in their province. I asked the usual question, who would most likely win in your city? In your province. For mayor? For governor?
His response was straightforward and specific. “Kung sino ang makakalampas sa sampung libo kada ulo, tapos na laban, kung kaya nila doblehin o kahit dagdagan ng limang libo, baka maiba resulta.”
I clarified, “Sampung libo kada botante?”
“Oo!”he said adding that during the 2016 elections, a candidate shelled out Php7,000.00 for every voter. That candidate won.
We are talking here of a province that is in the country’s top ten poorest provinces.
He talked some more. “Minsan lang eleksiyon. Kaunti pasahero dito sa amin. Hindi katulad sa Maynila. Tatanggapin ko sampung libo lalo na pag twenty-thousand, pare-pareho naman sila.”
I was on my way to the market when we had this conversation.
Two things, stood out.
One: the election, the vote is purchased, for sale. Given. Checked. But ten thousand pesos? Twenty-thousand pesos?
Two: they no longer see politicians as public servants. New or a veteran in the game, they see the candidates as one and the same.
Our national candidates are competing for the 12 senatorial slots but the real battle is in the local front.
This is where you really win hearts and minds, ideally. But as what the tricycle driver told me, his vote has a price and so does everyone else in his city.
A conversation with ordinary citizens like this tricycle driver is credible. That’s how you get the real pulse of the people and not from paid analysts and strategists.
This is a sad reality in our electoral process.
In the end, candidates pay, voters get the money. That simple. The sacred vote is now reduced to an ordinary trading with money transaction at the very core of it.
Flashback to the 1992 Elections, I saw a politician who was very popular at that time arrived in a chopper at a military camp in Sulu. He had with him several duffle bags.
It was my first election coverage, My eyes caught those duffle bags. I asked about it. No one responded to my querry.
Next thing I saw, some local politicians huddled with that popular candidate. Next, they fell in line. The duffle bags were in plain sight.
He handed them thick envelopes one by one.
I did not see what was in those envelopes. My cameraman was not allowed to take footage. I was in fact asked to wait in the other room.
That candidate who enjoyed an initial lead in the survey lost that election in 1992.
Back in 1992, the local politicians received the large cash. In spite of the cash incentive, they failed on delivering the votes.
The tricycle driver spoke with empowerment. His vote is for sale, he makes no excuse about it.
Bawal ang magbenta ng boto. bawal ang bumili ng boto.
Alam ng lahat ng botante. Alam din ng mga botante na wala namang napaparusahan.
This is not a sad commentary about the elections. This is reality.
If was true then when I first covered the elections. That truth stays.
Samantala, ang kahirapan sa maraming lalawigan ay isa ring katotohanang nandudumilat.
Mas nandudumilat ang katotohanang marami sa kanila ang mananatiling ganun ang kalagayan sa kabila ng pangako ng mga pulitiko.
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