That, dear karikna, is not the number of yellow shirts I have purchased.  I surmise not even Noynoy Aquino has that many in his wardrobe. Two hundred pesos is the current rate in the vote-buying operations for the first congressional seat in this province.  I have firsthand information that two of the strongest contenders for the post have started special operations as early as the first week of April.

With a strong grip of barangays in Laoag City, one candidate operates through barangay officials who hold a list of registered voters for each household.  Upon payment, a recipient is asked to sign beside his/her name.

Another candidate, who promises a fresh brand of politics, seems to find difficulty veering away from the dark shadows of his old man.  His camp, however, has a more legal way of doing things.  They give allowances of two hundred pesos to every volunteer.  This seems acceptable because candidates really have to take care of their volunteers.  The problem is that just anyone and everyone can be a part of their payroll.  All that you have to do is go to their headquarters and fill out a form.  The result:  some barangays would have hundred, if not thousands, of barangay coordinators.  If this is not circumvention of the law, what is?  Same pig, different collar.

While it does not shock me anymore that this happens in every nook and corner of the archipelago, it disturbs me that it’s not only the poor who accept dirty money from politicians.  Almost everyone now does, and this includes my friends who are professionals, and even those who live comfortable lives.  God, I even have friends who are involved with the election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting who admit to ‘selling’ their votes.

“Accept the money, but vote for your real choice,” seems to be the popular motto these days.  Most people justify the act with many other excuses, including, “accept the money because the coordinator will pocket it anyway if you don’t.”

Yet some justify vote buying as the democratization of money politics.  They feel that this is now the masses’ chance to get their share of the gold politicians steal (or will steal) while in office.  No matter how much government trumpets the gains in the economy, people don’t feel the goods trickle down to the grassroots level.  This, they say, is now their chance.

Vote sellers, mind you, are not thick-faced.  They have principles, too.  Most of them accept money because politicians refer to it as “tulong,” not “bayad.”   Invited as a resource speaker in voter education seminars held in various cities and municipalities, I have had the chance to talk to people about this issue.  “Haanmi awaten a no bayad ti awagna,” (We would not accept it if they say it’s payment) shared a middle-aged mother in a barangay in Batac. “Igatang laeng ti boggoong,” (Just money to buy fish paste) said yet another mother who admits having accepted money from rival candidates in their city.

Note that the amounts being distributed today, ranging from P200-P500 per person could well be just down payment.  More cash is expected to flow as the traditional pakaradap (gapang) happens a night or two before the elections.  Barangay captains are believed to receive six-digit figures.

There is one more dimension in vote-buying that is little explored.  It is not just an economic activity, it is also a social exercise.  You refuse to accept money from a coordinator, you risk being called “maarte,” “paimportante,” or “nagmamalinis”.  It’s difficult to turn down an offer especially if the coordinator is a good neighbor, a close friend, or a relative.  Culturally, Filipinos are not good at saying no to people.  So, if everyone else in the neighborhood accepted money, and you didn’t, you’d be an outcast.  This is one instance when the illegal has become the norm, and righteousness is deemed unhealthy to social relationships.  A senior faculty member from our university shares that a barangay kagawad raised eyebrows on their family for years after they refused to sell their votes, their honor.

The Philippines is now ranked as one of most corrupt nations in Southeast Asia, and no thanks to corrupt election practices.  Where and how else will politicians recoup their excessive campaign expenses except by pocketing public funds and by engaging in shady deals?  You sell your vote to politicians, you lose your right to complain of corruption, you lose your right to good governance.

The big question remains, however.  How do we solve a problem like vote buying which is inextricably tied up with poverty?  People are poor because of corruption.  People sell their votes, thereby engaging in petty corruption themselves, because they are poor.  We need good people who will save us from poverty, but how can people get elected if they don’t pay up?  It has become a vicious cycle which is extremely difficult to break.

Yes, many Filipinos sell their votes, yet I render judgment on no one.  I am just thankful that I neither need tulong nor love boggoong, and that I can afford to buy, from my hard-earned cash, a lot of yellow shirts.

Author: Herdy La. Yumul

A hesitant academic pimp, writer

23 thoughts on “200”

  1. NICE PIECE!!!
    In the 1st District of Ilocos Norte, we have 5 candidates who are vying for the congressional post…
    four (4) of them are literally buying the position of congressman…
    another 1 (who belongs to the yellow army), relies on his integrity, his long-years of untainted public service and who never resorted to vote-buying during elections…
    he is never afraid to make unpopular but correct choices…
    He has the guts to support a presidential candidate who is unacceptable in our locality…

  2. Apo, saanak mamati nga maikkat ti asino man nga Poncio Pilato ti kinarigat ti panagbiag. Idi inggana ita, addanto latta marig-rigat. Naibaga dayta ni Apo Hesus iti nasantuan nga kasuratan. Ti it-itedda nga kuarta ket naggapu iti pondo ti gobierno, iti droga, smuggling wenno iti hueteng. Awan kadagiti politiko ti aggastos iti bukodna nga kuarta nga ibunongna ita nga eleksyon. Agmauyong ti asino man nga agipadawat iti bukodna nga pirak nga talaga nga nagling-etanna ken nagrigatanna iti natakneng nga aramid. Awan met ti kasiguraduanna nga isu ti mangatiw ita nga eleksyon!

    1. Usto ta kunam kabsat, awan tao nga makaikkat ti kinakurapay ti padana a tao, no saan nga diay akinbagi mismo. Uray ana aramiden ti politiko a kinasayaat, no diay tao nga maseknan ket dina ammo tulungan bagina, awan serbina.

      Kayatko man a lawlawagan ti kapanunutan ti kaaduan, nga ti gobyerno ket isu ti namnama nga mangted ti amin a kasapulan tayo tapno rumang-ay ti kasasaad tayo. Ti gobyerno ti mangparnuay ti oportunidad tapno adda pangrugianan tayo nga sumayaat, ket adda kadatayo nga manggundaway iti dayta oportunidad. Siak ket maysa a marigrigat, nakarkaro pay ngem ti ibagbaga ti maysa a kandidato, ngem ginundawayak ti oportunidad nga indiaya ti gobyerno. Nagbasaak dita MMSU, dandani libre, balon ko lang ti ginastok. Dagiti pada a marigrigat, apay diyo gundawayan dagita a oportunidad. Idi agsapulak trabahok, adda indiaya ti gobyerno a job fair ket napanak, ket nakastrekak. Dagitoy a gundaway, saan a palabsen, tulungan tay met ti bagbagitayo, nga saan lattan agururay ti ited ti gobyerno tayo. Ita, nasaysayaat biagkon ngem idi, ken nasaysayaat to pay biagko ta ammok ti pagturungak ken ana ti gundaway nga idiaya ti gobyerno a pagsayaatak.

      1. That is why we should be wary of candidates who offer themselves as messiahs, claiming to be the answer to all social ills. They only encourage more helplessness and parasitism.

    2. Sakbay a masolbartayo iti kinapanglaw iti bulsa, masapul a paksiatentayo pay laeng iti kaawan moralidad. Poverty in the Philippines is rooted in moral bankruptcy.

  3. Maysaak met nga inatsitgan dagiti coordinators nga iyawatan iti 200(1st wave) plus 300(2nd wave) ngem kunak ket uray kadi isu lang met ti maysa nga maipagpannakkel ko iti bagik…. nga pulos nga madi mabayadan iti butos ko.

    Maysa lang nga balakad kadagiti padak nga madi kayat ti agpa bayad,,, agridam kau ket adu ti coordinators nga agisurat lattan iti nagan nga i-report da iti headquarters nga umawat ngem ibulsada met ti kuarta…

  4. Mr. Herdy, I think imeenot is correct when she/he said that your statement in this post contradicts to your statements in other posts.

    And one thing more I can say is that, only us can lift ourselves from poverty. The government is the key for the door of possibilities, we are the ones’ doing the work, or in other sense, the government is the BUS and we are the DRIVER!

      1. yeah i can point out, however, there are glitches in there that makes it a little bit confusing!

    1. Hi Au-au,
      Nice sharing of opinions you got there. However, I contradict that the people (we) are not the ‘driver/s’ and the government is not the ‘bus’. I contend that we are the ‘passengers’, the government institutions are the ‘buses’ and our taxes serve as our ‘fares’ for the ‘destination’ which is the platform of governance of elected officials who serves as our ‘drivers and conductors’. Our leaders lead us to our ‘destination’, which is the course of the nation, depending on how well they govern us. We chose our ‘drivers’; we get services from the ‘buses’; we pay for our ‘fares’. The problem is that we do not deserve dilapidated ‘buses’ that serve us with defective and dirty seats; the buses always have flat tires or defective engine delaying our trip to progress. Worse, the drivers/conductors pockets the ‘fares’ for their own, leaving the bus with minimal servicing fund for a comfortable and steady ride to our esteemed ‘destination’.

            1. yeah I think that is a better comparison… however still its our own decision to choose a bus which is miserable and a bus which is comfortable.

  5. FARINAS – 70,000
    ABLAN- 40,000
    SALES – 20,000
    RUIZ – 5,000
    PERALTA – 3, 390

    * maybe there are only 3,000 ilocanos in the 1st district in I.N. whose vote were not bought, i hope you belong to the 3,000 mr. yumul.

    nota bene:
    Engr. Sales passed up a sure opportunity (+ P48 million campaign fund) to become a congressman when he refused Madam’s Imee offer to become her candidate………
    ex-Mayor Roger Farinas for being absent when Madam Imee called up his residence…

    The Big WINNER
    Atty. Rudy Farinas – for being in the right place and the right time….

  6. I and my family don’t vote so i haven’t experienced any of these.
    “You sell your vote to politicians, you lose your right to complain of corruption, you lose your right to good governance.” i strongly agree on this and even my classmates are very proud to tell that they receive money from the candidates (one of them is an SK official), and that’s why I don’t understand why so many Filipino people and my classmates complain too much about the government. they even protest well in fact they support the candidate’s vote buying acts. According to my professor tayong mga Pilipino ay gusto ng panandaliang pera kaya hindi tayo nakakapili ng magalng na leader.

  7. 200??
    samin po 500..at ang masama pwde ka pang makakuha sa ibat ibang party,.,.pataasan ng perang maiaabot,.,
    naging talamak na talaga ang vote buying sa bansa natin,,.mas iniintindi ng tao ang pera kysa sa kinabukasan ng bansa..,,
    kung palagi nlng na ganito,malamang ang mas makapangyarihan na lamang ang uupo sa trono..at hindi na natin nabi2gyan ng pagkakataon ang mga taong may tunay na magandang intensyon na maka2long satin..

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