EDITORIAL: Guard Against Vote Buying



Broadcast accounts have it that bogus P1,000 bills have already started circulating in Libmanan, Camarines sur, particularly in a cockpit arena.


What is interesting is that fake bills started to pass hands just several days after the release of a freshly printed P1,000 bill featuring the Philippine Eagle or the monkey eating eagle, thereby discarding the old bill depicting the pictures of Jose Abad Santos, Josefa Llanes Escoda and Vicente Lim.


Several elections ago, the market also witnessed the circulation of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) --- released peso bills, which apparently triggered the rampant vote buying activities. Is this circulation of fake P1,000 bills a prelude to vote buying in such scandalous proportion? Flooding the nation with fake money has been a common spectacle during election season. Nothing is surprising about it anymore. Rather it signals the prospect of widespread vote buying. And given the abject property of a lot of voters, many would be easy prey.


If vote buying is rampant, it necessarily follows that vote selling is widespread. Necessity drives away dignity. That is a very disturbing reality. “Ang taong gipit kahit sa patalim pilit na kakapit.”


Along this line, some may opt to embrace their principles and snub vote buyers. Others, just to teach a lesson, would take the money and still vote the candidate of their choice. That entails a very high possibility of repercussion.


Instead of helping ensure more credible elections, technology is being utilized to muddle the process. What used to be black propaganda is now widely known as fake news with participants called trolls mostly operating incognito.


But even without the use of technology, vote buying can be resorted to by means which at first glance are lawful but at a closer look is clothed with deceit. This is through the recruitment of “watchers,” which as conceived is supposed to help monitor the electoral process.


Wily candidates have found a loophole in making use of the watcher scheme, by naming a limitless number of watchers, the number of which is beyond what is allowed under the election law. Through this, the campaign against vote buying is subverted, given that those recruited as pseudo watchers are not in reality functioning in such capacity. Rather money is paid to them to buy their votes.


For this reason, the better part of discretion is to refrain from accepting money from politicians or their leaders, whether the bill is genuine or not. If the money is genuine, it is obvious that it is intended to buy votes. On the other hand, if the money is freshly printed, the would be recipient should be extra vigilant. It is highly probable that he or she is being duped with fake money.


Incidentally, during the 2019 elections, there have been talks about sacks of money bills being transported by helicopter to certain remote areas of Libmanan town. Is the circulation of the P1,000 bills inside the cockpit arena just testing the waters? Or is this a prelude to a rampant vote buying scheme?


Principle centered citizens have the moral obligation of guarding against vote buying. Otherwise our society is indeed going to the dogs.