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Vote Buying

Would you exchange your vote for one thousand pesos? Would you exchange your future for the money youll temporarily gain? Are you willing to take the consequences and suffer for years for choosing the wrong leader? Well, vote buying is one common scenario every election and this year, we will be having senatorial election as well as the local ones. Vote buying is an election offense as a matter of fact. Campaign materials like pens, shirts, fans are allowed as long as it is given for free. If one candidate spends a thousand per person to secure his or her vote, his wage as a public official if he is elected as one would not be enough to cover the expenses in the previous election. Thats the reason why many of our public officials engage in corruption and other illegal activities once they in the position. Vote buying takes in many forms. Some give money, some give goods. Each vote may sometimes cost as much as PhP 5,000 per individual. There is one instance in Samar that a vote costs Php 20,000 for the Mayoral election. People think that candidates simply share their blessings but behind that it can be considered as vote buying. Most of our fellowmen especially the poor take these bribes not for themselves but for their suffering family. They think that these sum of money would able him or her to feed those hungry mouths for days without thinking what will happen to them if the election is over. Will those officials continue to help them? Perhaps not. The problem with vote buying is that the offender is not punished because there is no complaint filed by the recipient of the money. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is trying to catch and punish offenders particularly candidates engaging in vote buying.

How will our country progress when we cannot even be honest to ourselves? Mostly, only the rich can afford to give away tons of money each election. How about those candidates who are poor and those who cannot give money to the people but are honest and are willing to serve the people? Isnt it unfair? In the end we are the ones to suffer. Lets not waste a single vote. Your vote can make a difference. Let us choose wisely who to vote. Fight corruption. When offered, do not vote the candidate. Even though, the government is trying their best to stop vote buying, let us do our share. Report what you have seen to the authorities but bring strong evidence. Be aware of whats happening around you. Exercise your right to vote. Vote because you want and not because you are paid. Let us support Kaya Natin!, the Ateneo School of Government, and the Transparency and Accountability Networks slogan, Make It Count: Dahil Walang Katumbas Na Pera ang Boto Mo.

Concept and letters by: Hannah Dadivas Cristyflor Esordial Claire Joy Gaviola