Vote-buying more prevalent during 2010 polls

Posted at Oct 09 2012 09:51 AM | Updated as of Oct 09 2012 06:07 PM

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MANILA, Philippines - The election fever is heating up.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento says the poll body's most pressing concerns are voters’ registration, which ends on October 31st; reviewing party-list groups, completing the bidding process for some election materials and coming up with a final list of candidates who will run for over 18,000 posts.

Once these are settled, Sarmiento says the Comelec will focus on configuring the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, printing ballots, and ensuring the safety and training of teachers.

For the Teachers' Dignity Coalition, their concerns for the next elections are clear: security, disenfranchisement and an increase in honorarium from 3-thousand pesos to 6-thousand pesos.

TDC spokesperson Emmalyn Policarpio says the group has held talks with the Comelec about their compensation.

“It’s not the number of hours. Gaya sabi ko yung dinaraanan ng guro as BEI ay hindi simple. Yung intimidation, harassment, paglalagay ng kasama natin sa delikadong sitwasyon,” says Emmalyn Policarpio, spokesperson of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition.

While a few glitches marked the first automated elections in the country, Sarmiento and former Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal say vote-buying became more prevalent in the 2010 polls.

“There are two types of vote buying: 1) positive vote buying - where a person's vote is bought by watchers or individuals or 2) negative voting - for example I'll pay you this much, don't go to precinct anymore. Two things can happen: your record is empty or someone will go there to vote for you because biometrics registration in PH is about 65% only. There's about 35% voting database w/o biometrics,” says Larrazabal.

“There's no insurance they will be voting for these candidates who gave them money but reports reaching us from these voters, other sources say vote-buying has doubled because of automated elections.”

Meanwhile the Parish Pastoral Council for Reponsible Voting believes educating voters needs more focus.

These stakeholders remain optimistic about the upcoming polls, saying the country can learn from the 2010 experience and use it to improve the midterm elections and even up to the 2016 elections.