By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
Its Friday evening and we are waiting for a story about politicos giving out goods in Kalinga. This is of course vote buying, but what else is new?
Everywhere in the Cordillera, vote buying is rampant. But it is still nothing to what they have in the lowlands where a household with four voters can pool the prices of their votes and would be able to come up with a downpayment for a tricycle. That’s how bad it is. For corruption is really bad down there. A politician can just pocket the budget for infrastructure projects and people will not squeal. Those who are brave enough to shout “corruption” are never sued for they end up in their graves in a matter of weeks.
One young doctor we knew was so confident of winning the mayorship of a town in the lowlands. He calculated that his barangay with the biggest number of voters in the town could carry him through. He just needed to add some votes from here and there. His confidence was not unfounded. Their barangay was under the control of his uncle and his wife who had been lording over the local folks since time immemorial. And he could count on them. There was just no chance they will capitulate to the other side.
But on the eve of the election, the henchmen of his adversary carried out a well-planned vote buying operation. Every voter was given enough to shift their loyalty. When the votes were counted, he literally had only two votes in his own barangay. He was so devastated that he suffered a heart attack. He was just about 50 years old. His only consolation, if we can call it that, was that he passed away instantly. He did not become a vegetable.
As they say in Tagalog, bilog ang bola. The election is not over until its over.
But one vote buying mode more than a decadein my hometown takes the cake. The one who distributed on the eve of the election the money of high denomination to buy votes had a store. The day after, when the recipients of the money went to his store to buy stuff using the bills, he refused to honor the bills saying that they were fake, and indeed they were. Some lesson to keep in mind.
One thing very noticeable in this administration is that retired police and military officers are being taken care of. When they retire, they are given high ranking positions in government or in government corporations, or in the private sector with the help of the powers that be. So they say, there can be no coup against the President.
Not only the officers, even the ordinary foot soldiers and the rank and file in the police service. Their salaries were nearly doubled.
Now there is a new form of buying the loyalty of retired military and police officers. They are being supported to run for elective posts. In the race for the Senate, General Ronald “Bato” De La Rosa, is hopeful he will be one of the victors.
In the local scene, Gen. Benjamin Magalong is running for mayor of Baguio City.
In Mountain Province, PSupt. Allen Ocden is in the race for the lone congressional district there.
While buying the loyalty of the police and the military can mean stability in the political system, it can also mean oppression or violation of human rights through the barrel of the gun. We hope things will not result in the latter, but throughout the world, oppressive dictators who wanted to perpetrate themselves in power used the military and the police. They accomplish this by abusing the citizenry, or even killing them. So those who are fearful of being oppressed or even killed through the barrel of the gun, they should think twice before casting their votes.**