MANILA, Philippines – Because vote buying can’t be stamped out permanently, former president Joseph Estrada proposes a simple fix: “Take the money, put it in your pockets but still vote for Estrada.”
Worries of cheating and vote buying are on a high as election day (Monday) loomed but Estrada, running for Manila mayor under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), still urged residents not to sell their votes.
Politicians who pay for votes are likely to “take back” what they gave away 10 times over once they win, claimed the mayoralty bet.
He said that voters could outsmart such scrupulous candidates by giving them a lesson in vote buying by accepting the bribe but still voting for the candidate of their choice and not the one who bought their vote.
In his speech, re-electionist Vice Mayor Isko Moreno implored Manila voters not to choose candidates involved in vote buying.
“Stand firm. This is just for a day, for the lives of your children and grandchildren,” Moreno said in Filipino.
Estrada’s camp accused re-electionist Mayor Alfredo Lim of vote buying when the incumbent distributed pedicabs to residents under the city government’s Boundary-Hulog Program.
Moreno, Estrada’s running mate, questioned its timing, noting that while the project was launched in 2012, it was done during the campaign period.
This was denied by Lim who said that the accusation was part of a smear campaign against him.
“Puro sila daldal, wala namang nagagawa. Pati pagtulong sa mga pedicab drivers, pilit hinahaluan ng pulitika,” said the incumbent mayor.
Estrada and Moreno are in Moriones, Tondo for UNA’s miting de avance.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile are also expected to endorse the opposition’s candidates within the night.
The opposition has another miting de avance held simultaneously in Makati City.
The presence of UNA’s “three kings” will be a show of force – a final attempt to boost their senatorial bets’ chances of winning in Monday’s elections.
With only two days left before the elections, Estrada said that he did not entertain the idea of losing.
In a statement, the opposition said it remained confident that its senatorial slate would have a good showing during Election Day.
UNA campaign manager Toby Tiangco said that they believed “voters today are no longer being influenced by political surveys.”
Instead, voters were “more aware of the issues and have come to appreciate the importance of looking into the track record, credentials, credibility, and integrity of candidates,” he said.