Colmenares: Make politicians, poll execs liable over vote-buying, not voters
MANILA, Philippines — Of all parties involved in the illegal vote-buying scheme, politicians doing the dirty deed and election officials looking the other way should be the ones being held accountable and not the voters taking the money.
This was the position of senatorial candidate and former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares on the issue of vote-buying, which recently took the limelight in the busy pre-election campaign trail.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Colmenares said the biggest liability regarding the illegal activity rests on candidates buying votes as well poll officials neglecting their duties to uphold and enforce election laws.
Colmenares said the accountability of candidates and election officials in the proliferation of vote-buying should not be passed on to voters, who are already being abused by politicians.
“On vote buying, ang may pinakamalaking pananagutan sa krimen ay ang mga pulitikong namimili ng boto at mga pabayang election officials. Sila ang dapat usigin,” Colmenares said.
(On vote-buying, the biggest liability on this crime rests on the politicians who are trying to buy votes and the election officials who neglect their work.)
“Huwag natin ipasa sa mga botante ang burden dahil in the first place, hindi sila dapat ino-offeran ng pera pag eleksyon,” he added.
(Let us not pass the burden to voters because, in the first place, they should not even be offered money during the election season.)
Colmenares, a lawyer by profession, also advised voters to try their best to avoid politicians who would resort to vote-buying. But once they succumb to the pressure, they should continue voting based on their conscience.
“Sa kalagayang may nag-o-offer nga ng pera para sa inyong boto, mas mabuting huwag tanggapin para hindi kayo naiipit o na-pe-pressure na bumoto labag sa inyong kagustuhan. Kung hindi ninyo matanggihan ang alok, bumoto pa rin ayon sa konsensya,” he added.
(In the instance where somebody offers you money in exchange for your vote, it would be better if you would not accept it so that you would not be pressured to vote against your will. But if you cannot refuse the offer, you should still vote according to your conscience.)
Colmenares’ advice came after the topic of vote-buying was discussed by various candidates in the 2022 national elections. In a forum on Tuesday, Vice President Leni Robredo who is running for the presidency told household workers that if ever personalities attempt to bribe them into voting for a particular candidate, they should just accept the money since it may have also come from the taxpayers, but that they should still vote according to their conscience.
Robredo even pointed out during the forum that candidates would have no way of knowing who they actually voted for.
But a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official issued a statement emphasizing that vote-buying is an illegal act and an election offense.
Robredo subsequently clarified that she is against vote-buying and was only acknowledging the “realities on the ground.” She also cited the weak implementation of election laws to address the matter.
Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno who is also running for president also chimed in the discussions, saying that he believes Filipinos would not be lured by money.
Still, he stressed that people who accept the money should not be blamed especially with families living through hard times recently.
Aside from Robredo, another presidential candidate, Senator Manny Pacquiao, attracted controversy after he was accused of vote-buying because he handed money to people he would come across in his recent trips.
In response, Pacquiao’s camp insisted that the senator has always been giving people money as part of his advocacy since 2002 — even before the world boxing champion entered politics.
On Tuesday, Pacquiao said critics are just envious of his gestures proving that he has been helping people for a long time now.
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