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Survey: Most Butuan voters OK with vote-buying

BUTUAN CITY, Agusan del Norte, Philippines — Officials of a Catholic university here have raised concern after a recent election survey from its policy center revealed that an overwhelming majority of the city’s voters found nothing wrong with accepting money on election day even if they would not vote for the candidate who offered them money.

The survey, conducted by the Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) Policy Center, showed that 73.54 percent of respondents would accept money offered in exchange for their votes in the May 13 elections.

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Lawyer Josefa Sorrera-Ty, director of the FSUU Policy Center and dean of the College of Law, said the survey, conducted from April 15 to 25, was part of the school’s commitment to provide the public with an accurate and nonpartisan report on voters’ perceptions.

Ty said the survey involved 2,188 respondents, who represented 1 percent of the voting population of each of the 86 villages in Butuan City. The city has a voting population of about 192,000.

“Only 42.6 percent expected to receive money from candidates or political parties this coming election while 57.4 percent said otherwise. This maybe because this year’s local election is not as [closely fought] as the previous years,” Ty said.

But when asked if they would vote for candidates who gave money, 62.57 percent of the respondents said no and only 37.4 percent said yes, she said.

Almost half of the respondents were unemployed (37.16 percent) while those earning below P40,000 accounted for 47.17 percent.

Poverty

Fr. Randy Jasper Odchigue, vice president for academic affairs of FSUU, said the data was an indication of a failure to address the problem and the culture of vote-buying.

“The data indicates that there is still so much to be done. [The] religious and civic sectors should work hand in hand to address this concern. But compared to our previous surveys, the data showed a slight increase on the number of people who would decline the offer of money,” Odchigue said.

He said poverty was the underlying reason for accepting money because 58.81 percent of respondents revealed that they would use it to buy rice and food while 17.22 percent said they would use it to pay bills and other household expenses.

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Jody Navarra, a civil society activist in Butuan City, said he had witnessed the trend of vote-buying in the city since the 1950s, and blamed such practice on poor family values.

“The culture of fraud through vote-buying had been passed down from grandparents to their grandchildren. And because of the hard times and frustrations from the political and electoral system, the younger generation would accept and take the money,” Navarra said.

“Most of the time, heads of families will bring the names of family members to political groups to sell their votes. The sad part is that they are even proud of and will brag about how much money they have received,” he said.

Family values

Fr. John Young, president of FSUU, expressed concern over the survey results. “Both the academe and the Church play a huge role in informing and educating the public about vote-buying. But this culture should be fought first within our homes, as it all boils down to family values,” he said.

A similar survey conducted by the university’s policy center before the 2016 national elections showed that 77.95 percent of respondents in the city said they would accept money during elections.

In 2013, the school conducted the same survey, in which 80 percent of 1,833 respondents expressed they had nothing against selling their votes.

The FSUU Policy Center emphasized that during last April’s survey, each respondent was subjected to a face-to-face interview to elicit personal information such as age, educational attainment, occupation and annual income.

Each respondent was also asked about the most pressing issues in their communities, characteristics of ideal leaders, and the preferred candidates for local positions.

See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Butuan voters, Father Saturnino Urios University Policy Center, FSUU Policy, vote-buying
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