Vote-buying reported in BSK polls
By Manly M. Ugalde
LIGAO CITY --- Reports of extensive vote-buying emerged during the recent barangay and SK elections held on October 30. A middle-class family in Barangay Tinago disclosed receiving cash envelopes worth P2,000 each, delivered on the evening of October 29, attributed to a barangay captain candidate.
The voter revealed their surprise at being included in a vote-buying scheme, especially in a mere barangay election, where candidates reportedly offered as much as P2,000 per voter, far exceeding the amounts distributed during the previous 2022 elections.
In another instance, a retired government employee, unsuccessful in their bid for barangay kagawad in Legazpi, expressed astonishment at the prevalence of vote buying despite stern warnings from the Comelec. They highlighted instances of corruption, notably in Barangay Buragwis in Legazpi, where rumors swirled that a barangay captain candidate allegedly resorted to offering P3,000 per voter.
Despite the election being deemed relatively peaceful by authorities, these incidents underscored the deeply embedded issue of corruption in the local electoral process. Furthermore, senior citizens expressed dismay at the involvement of incumbent higher-ranking officials, like mayors, governors, and congressmen, in supporting favored candidates, perpetuating a culture of corruption.
The Philippine elections, even at the lowest barangay level, have been marred by reported vote-buying, which further adds to the string of societal challenges, including a series of killings.
In response to these concerning events, suggestions have been made, such as reducing the barangay election budget by streamlining the process, with proposals to limit the number of leaders and reconsider the existence of the SK (Sangguniang Kabataan). One idea even suggests appointing barangay leaders and councilors through a selection process that minimizes political influence, aiming to curtail corrupt practices ingrained within the system.
Former Secretary Rafael Alunan also highlighted the prevalence of corruption within barangay projects, emphasizing the expectation of kickbacks even in routine turnover procedures after project completion.
While the recent barangay elections showcased the enduring presence of corruption, there is a growing call for structural changes to mitigate these systemic issues and revamp the electoral system for more transparency and integrity.