Eastern Visayas poll fraud tied to poverty
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Reports of massive vote buying in Eastern Visayas in the recently concluded barangay elections are but signs of grinding poverty in the region and the lack of education of many voters, according to a ranking official of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).
“They are aware that vote buying is prohibited under our laws and yet they are expecting money during the elections,” said Evangeline Paran, NSCB regional head, referring to voters who accepted bribes from candidates during the elections.
She said the money received by voters from candidates wouldn’t help them in the long run since this was spent immediately instead of being used on business ventures.
Based on the NSCB’s 2012 poverty survey, Eastern Visayas was among the poorest regions in the country with 37 out of every 100 families considered poor.
Massive vote buying during the Oct. 28 elections was reported across the region. The amount ranged from P40 to more than P1,000 per voter, depending on the position being sought by the candidates.
The Commission on Elections in Eastern Visayas has appealed to voters to file complaints against candidates who were engaged in vote buying.
But so far, no complaint has been filed.
Paran said she was shocked that vote buying had become a standard practice among candidates.
“We know for a fact that some of these candidates have no steady income and yet they could afford to buy their way to office,” she said.
Paran said vote buying would have an impact on the quality of service to be rendered by barangay officials engaged in the illegal practice.
“Not only the quality of service but even the integrity of their leadership can also be questioned,” said Paran. “They bought their way to office,” she said.
In some instances, however, candidates had to draw lots in closely fought contests.
But in other cases, the violence continued, further affirming reports that the recent elections were among the country’s bloodiest.
One case involved an apparent act of vendetta by a defeated candidate for village chair in a Maguindanao town.
According to Capt. Antonio Bulao, spokesperson of the 602nd Brigade, a day-care center was razed by suspects believed to be led by a Maotan Dalimbang Kasim, who lost his bid to become chair of Nabundas village in Montawal town, and his brother Tatoh.
Bulao said Maotan and his brother were members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. With a report from Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao