DAGUPAN CITY (May 16) — Residents of this city and other Pangasinan towns were treated to various forms of vote-buying by candidates from both sides, some eye-witnesses disclosed today.
“Talamak dito ang vote-buying kahit saang lugar,” (Vote-buying is rampant in any place here) a Nordis source claimed. She added people did not mind taking money or a bag of groceries from the candidates because it was the order of the day.
A congressional candidate from the administration ticket was reportedly distributing P1000-peso bills through barangay officials who were consulting an official voter’s list. Earlier, campaigners of the same candidate were distributing a bag of groceries with P500 to each adult in every household in Barangay Salay, Mangaldan town in the fourth district.
His opponent, a former city mayor here, also allegedly distributed P100 along with a bag of groceries in the same town. Earlier, this candidate was on national television disclaiming reports that the sardines he was distributing was spoiled and made the recipients sick.
In Lingayen, the second district of Pangasinan, residents of Maramba Boulevard and Alvear Streets reportedly received plastic basins aside from bags of groceries. Some campaigners knock on doors to deliver the goods, an old woman who no longer votes told Nordis. She admitted to have received a bag of groceries with two cans of sardines, a kilo of rice, two packs of instant noodles and a kilo of sugar.
“Some even received cash, but I did not get any because I am ashamed to get it,” she said in the Pangasinense. “People here feasted on the candidates’ gifts,” she added.
In the town of Bautista, a similar scenario was observed by another resident. “They knocked on doors in the middle of the night of May 13, and on May 14, supporters send hot bread with accompanying coffee and creamer. All one had to do was heat water and have breakfast,” our source disclosed.
Eastern Pangasinan towns San Manuel and San Nicolas were not spared from vote-buying activities. Even the party list Abono allegedly inserted P20-bills in its campaign materials to woe farmers’ votes.
Another elderly woman, a retired teacher, says elections in the Philippines have always been characterized by massive vote-buying, which she considers a political corruption.
“People have gotten used to it that it is now the rule rather than the exception,” the octogenarian surmised. She said there is no way to check whether those who received the bribe actually voted for the corrupt candidates. She blamed the extreme poverty the electorate experience which pushes them to plunge further into dirty politics.
“That is why public officials tend to commit graft and corruption,” many people rationalize but say they are not in a position to refuse the bribe especially when the pots are empty and the stomach wanting.
Vote-buying is not only observed in Pangasinan but also in other cities and provinces. It is not only during this year’s elections but also in the past elections but it is not easy to prove because no one files complaints, an observer said.
The Asian Network for Free Elections, a poll watchdog of 21 foreign observers, reportedly saw sample ballots were distributed with small currency notes attached, privacy was scant, and poll watchers were sitting next to voters, whispering to them in the south.
In Baguio City, a congressional bet allegedly distributed P100,000 worth accident insurance cards even to members of the Board of Election Inspectors, expected to render fair service during the elections. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS