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Vote Buying in Philippine Elections

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Opinions about vote buying
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  “Vote Buying” in Philippine Elections   EDWARD S. ILAGAN EILAGAN@MAIL.LANDBANK.COM, WATTS.ILAGAN@GMAIL.COM  DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY OF THE PHILIPPINES PHILIPPINE GOVERNANCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM TAGAYTAY CITY, CAVITE JULY 2019 I. Statement of the Problem or Issue In a democratic country voting during election is a basic human right of its member citizens. Success of this democratic process heavily depends on a clean, honest and fair election and this is where vote buying   comes as a threat to the conduct of the democratic elections. Vote buying most often than not proliferates in a developing country like the Philippines. It is during the height of the election campaign where vote buying casts dark shadows towards realizing clean election outcomes. As election date draws near candidates running on different positions connives with middlemen known as “vote brokers” , the most common form of influence is through cash offerings or material gifts to constituents who are registered voters within their campaign coverage. History has an indirect effect on the start of vote buying in the Philippines. Vote buying did not start in this country and it is not an srcinal Filipino idea. Other writings suggested it was only an influence of Spain as our first colonizer who brought us Christianity. In the bible the earliest account I could think of about vote buying is when the Sanhedrin buys the vote of the people to on who to free between Barrabas and Jesus. This trait has manifested in majority of the Filipinos that it became a constant scenario in every election.  All elections in the Philippines have historically been characterized by electoral irregularities. From accusations of overspending to cheating to vote buying. It is noteworthy that there hasn’t been an election wherein no protest was raised, it is said the in the Philippine Election there were only winners and those that got cheated. It is evident that candidates and political parties strategize on various means to assure a win cum election day. Many would corrupt the electoral process with vote-buying because it is the hardest one to prove. Oppositions would always accuse incumbent government officials that they obtain public funds while in power to maximize vote-buying during elections. The premise is that they hide personal campaign gains in their exercise of functions on the provision of infrastructure or services benefits for their current constituents.  Vote buying in the Philippines is considered illegal but continually proliferates as underground activities where political candidates engaged themselves. Article 22 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) of the Philippines articulates vote buying as “giving, offering, or promising money, favors, or jobs in exchange for getting a person’s vote for the candidate or causing the person to vote against somebody else.”   The OEC makes both the seller and buyer of the votes criminally liable. Vote buying continues to be a widespread practice during election period, more predominantly during election day, when voters are about to go to polling centers to cast their votes. This practice is known to all voters that, in principle, it has become more tolerated or accepted than viewed as illegal practice punishable by law. No less than the President of the Philippines has admitted that “If they are caught, they will be  prosecuted to the fullest of the law. Now, the practice of buying votes has been an integral part of an election i  n the Philippines. ’Yang pagboto lahat ’yan. Walang hindi nagbibili ng boto rito... Ituro mo kung sino ang hindi nagbili ng boto (Nobody has not bought votes. Tell me who has not bought votes),”   (PHILSTAR-May 14, 2019). Another admission from COMELEC Provincial Election Supervisor Eliseo Labaria that “vote - buying is a persistent problem of the poll body”    (PHILIPPINE NEWS AGENCY-February 20, 2019). In this paper, the author would carefully assess the issue of vote buying in the Philippines elections from 2010 to 2019 both in the national and local levels. II. Objective of the Paper   To identify causes of vote buying and selling in the Philippines.   To study existing measures to counteract vote buying and selling.   To formulate recommendatory opinion and or suggestion to mitigate the conduct of vote buying.  III. Significance of the Paper Every election, all citizens on have one vote as it should be. We should treat it a lot more than just a currency. It is a responsible person’s sacred right an exercise of free will. The greatest equalizer of a citizen of a free nation whether you’re rich or poor, powerful or not, each vote is counted the same, everyone has an equal chance to have their choice counted and be part of the voice of the people. On this context there should be no place for vote buying. The electoral system is considered as the set of rules which govern the conduct of elections in a democratic form of government like the Philippines. It recognizes the counting of votes which signals election outcomes whereby any candidate vying for public office is directly elected to a particular position based on what he/she runs for. The entire election exercise is viewed as an instrument for evaluating and changing governments at all levels of the bureaucracy. It is also regarded as a legal opportunity for those in power and those who are not to influence each other. The electorates are the very heart of this political process where in the Philippine political context, every legal age Filipino has the right to vote and elect government officials. Over the history of the country’s electoral exercise, the Commission on  Election (COMELEC) has reported many vote buying cases during elections which resulted to disqualifications of candidates, others being put behind bars. However, the practice itself has continued to proliferate at all levels of the bureaucracy being done clandestinely which has been labeled as a political disease deeply entrenched within the electoral system of Philippine society. Voters know that it is happening near and around polling centers through delegated vote brokers or trusted persons of the candidates; however, it is very difficult to prove this illegal practice since it is clandestinely done. International Journal on Graft and Corruption Research In more than four decades of Philippine election history, it has become an accepted unlawful practice among political candidates and known to every voting individual. Elections are important in a democracy because they encourage participation of the citizens of a country in its governance and are an important tool for this purpose. IV. Limitations of the Paper: Scope and study of this research paper is limited only to publish materials, blogs secondary and tertiary data. No first-hand accounts were utilized in writing the research. Vote buying cases studied are on Philippine setting only. This paper is not intended to change or amend any existing electoral laws. Any views and opinions expressed by the author in writing the paper is for research and study only.  V. Definition of Terms (Used in the Paper) Bylaws Rules created by organizations in order to regulate themselves. Candidate  An applicant for a political position. The candidacy stage tests their political credentials on the campaign trail. Conflict of Interest  Arises when a person or organization has multiple interests, one of which threatens to corrupt the decision-making process of the person or organisation with regards to the other interest. Democracy Systems of government in which power ultimately lies with the people. Election   A democratic procedure through which one or more persons are chosen as executives or representatives in certain bodies. Electioneering Refers to the act of campaigning to influence the result of an election in favor of a particular candidate or party. Election Fraud Illegal actions aimed at changing or influencing or forcing the results of an election. Regulation Law issued by an executive body. Resolution  A decision an organization makes to take a particular course of action. Vote Buying   Any reward given to a person for voting in a particular way or for not voting. Vote Selling   An act wherein Individuas show willingness to sell votes or receive cash from vote-buyers or intermediaries in exchange for their votes  VI.  Methodology: The study utilized descriptive method of data coming from secondary and tertiary sources from various agencies and published reference articles and journals related to the conduct of vote buying which is the single most and deadliest threat in the conduct of a reliable and honest election in the country. Qualitative data gathered from online refereed journals served as sources for the discussions, recommendations and conclusion. VII. Survey of Related Literature To be able to gain perspective on vote buying the author has gathered and reviewed information to be able to attain set objectives. They were compiled from news articles that has been published from year 2012 to 2019 summarized and limited to the following vote buying topics;   How it Works   Types   Forms   Factors   Punishment   Efforts undertaken against How vote buying works (Open Secret): The steps and illustration below is a common procedure as openly observe but hard to establish connections for buying votes Candidates hire people to do the vote-buying for them. They are called "vote-brokers." Vote-brokers have their respective turfs (i.e., barangays, streets) where they conduct surveys to see if voters support their candidate. If not, prices of votes go up. Vote-brokers recruit families, in which parents act as "sub-leaders." They recruit their children of voting age. Block voting happens within the family. Each family member receives around P500 to P5,000, but rates vary sometimes if a vote-broker can guarantee a winning block they can get as much as P500,000.00. Vote-brokers also connive with some election officers.
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