What some 2022 presidential aspirants say about vote-buying

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 27 2021 06:57 PM | Updated as of Oct 27 2021 09:57 PM

Some of the 2022 presidential aspirants, from left to right: Vice President Leni Robredo, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Senator Ping Lacson.
Some of the 2022 presidential aspirants, from left to right: Vice President Leni Robredo, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Senator Ping Lacson. Basilio Sepe, Mark Demayo, and Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — "Vote buying is an election offense regardless of financial situation or noble intentions," Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez said Wednesday.

It should not be done, and should not be suggested to voters, he added.

The poll body official issued the statement after Vice President Leni Robredo, an aspirant for the country's top post next year, said voters being bribed by candidates should take the money but still vote according to conscience.

Other presidential aspirants have since issued their respective statements on the matter, while Robredo clarified she does not condone vote-buying.

Robredo said she wants to seek awareness on the apparent lack of enforcement of election laws and rules against vote-buying.

“So sa atin, aware tayo sa nasa batas. Hindi tayo masaya na hindi ito na-e-enforce. Pero dapat bukas ang mata natin sa realities on the ground. Kung hindi maayos ang enforcement, ano ba ang gagawin natin?” Robredo told reporters in Naga City.

(We're aware it's in the law. But we're not happy it's not being enforced. We should be aware of the realities on the ground. If enforcement is not done well, what should we do?)

In a series of tweets, labor leader Leody De Guzman, the presidential bet of Laban ng Masa party, said “direct” vote-buying is against the law, but there are loopholes or “indirect vote-buying” acts through projects, aids, and jobs that are being committed.

De Guzman said that “indirect vote-buying” will continue as long as the Filipino people have no other option to elect leaders from the ranks of billionaires and political dynasties.

“Mangyayari ang direct at indirect vote buying habang gutom ang masa at walang mapagpiliang kandidato kundi mga bilyonaryo o mula sa political dynasty,” he said .

(Direct and indirect vote-buying will happen while the masses are hungry and have no choice other than billionaire candidates or those from political dynasties.)

The labor leader said that political and electoral reforms are vital in order to address concerns on vote-buying and patronage politics in the Philippines. 

He said political dynasties should be abolished and direct participation of the masses in governing the country must be asserted.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, the 2022 standard bearer of Aksyon Demokratiko, said the Filipino people are "smart" and will choose the right candidate in the upcoming elections. 

"Hindi mo masisisi ang tao na tumatanggap ng pera sa hirap ng buhay. Ngunit matalino ang Pilipino. Alam nila kung sino ang tunay na lider na may malasakit sa kanila at kung sino ang fake. Hindi kayang maliitin ng mga pulitiko ang pag-unawa ng tao," he said in a statement. 

(You can’t blame the people if they receive money because life is hard. But Filipinos are smart. They know who are the real leaders who care about them, and who are fake. Politicians cannot underestimate the people.)

World champion boxer and Senator Manny Pacquiao said those who sell their votes put their future at risk, adding that he believes people will make the right choice come the 2022 elections.

"'Yang boto ninyo, puwede 'yang bilhin ng P1,000, P2,000. Pero ang kapalit niyan is 6 na taon pagsasakripisyo, 6 na taon ng paghihirap," the PROMDI presidential bet said.

(Your votes can be bought for P1,000, P2,000. But you'll get 6 years of sacrifices, 6 years of hardships in exchange.)

"Ano bang kinabukasan mo sa loob ng 6 na taon? 'Yun 'yun. Bawat boto mo, mahalaga. 'Wag ninyong ibenta 'yung boto ninyo. Pagdating sa pamumuno dito sa bansa natin, 'wag na 'wag niyo ibenta 'yang boto ninyo."

(What will be our future in the next 6 years? That's what you need to think about. Every vote counts. So don't sell your votes. When it comes to governance, you shouldn't sell your votes.)

"Alam ko matalino ang taong-bayan. Matalino kayong pumili. Alalahanin ninyo ang isang boto natin, isang boto ng bawat Pilipino, kinabukasan sa buong 6 na taon."

(I know Filipinos are smart, that you will choose wisely. Remember that how the next 6 years play out depends on every vote, each Filipino's vote.)

Asked for Senator Panfilo Lacson’s position on vote-buying, Partido Reporma and the lawmaker's campaign spokesperson Ashley Acedillo shared the presidential aspirant’s 2019 position on the matter.

“If voters think that accepting money or selling their votes is the only way to immediately benefit from a politician, they should be aware that they would suffer for a longer period in return.”

Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, the administration's presidential bet, said: "That is illegal and immoral. First, receiving the bribe money is already engaging in vote buying, which is a violation of law, therefore illegal."

"Secondly, accepting the money and voting with your conscience.. which is voting for another candidate other than the bribing candidate, is akin to 'estate' therefore immoral. The better advice is not to accept the money and report the vote buyer directly to the police," he added.

Former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. has no recent statement about the issue, but spoke about it in 2016 when he was running for vice president. 

"'Wag na ninyong pansinin yang mga vote-buying na 'yan. Kunin yung pera, kung sakali. Pero, 'wag kayong boboto sa sinasabi niya. Iboto ninyo yung gusto ninyo," he said then.

(Don't pay attention to those buying votes. You take the money, if ever. But don't vote for the person they are endorsing. Vote whoever is your choice.) 

Jimenez, the Comelec spokesman, said that while it is difficult to penalize those who commit vote buying, the agency has already "unseated several election winners for proven cases."

But he said the most effective tool against it is for the public to simply reject any offer.

Instead of encouraging it and "making it appear that vote buying can somehow have a positive impact," candidates must teach their supporters "to hold a higher standard" and "promise systemic reform," said Jimenez.

He said there are continuing efforts to counter vote-buying, including discussions with e-payment platforms.

Robredo, De Guzman, Moreno, Pacquiao, and Lacson are among 97 individuals who filed their candidacy for President in the May 9, 2022 elections.

The other presidential aspirants include Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, and former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.

Comelec will trim the list in the coming months to remove those found to be nuisance candidates.

The official campaign period for national position candidates for next year's elections will start only on Feb. 8, 2022.

— with reports from Jamaine Punzalan, Robert Manila, and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News


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