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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, March 1, 2016
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From the Center
with Rolly Espina

Election wows and woes

Rolly EspinaThe pronouncement of our very own Negrense, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon that screen monitors will be set-up to allow voters to see their own votes is downright a huge wow and will lessen chances of election rigging.

If this happens, even before the polls close, our candidates will more or less know their chances if their watchers are vigilant on the number of votes they've gathered that were flashed on the screens.

This, according to Bing, is in the spirit of transparency and I agree wholeheartedly. However, there is a downside to this act.

Reality tells us vote-buying still exists. On D-day, candidates, especially those with machineries usually drop sample ballots with money attached to it and they range from between P50 to P1,000 depending on the area and rivalry among candidates.

Several elections ago, I've made mention how our house helps were able to earn as much as P1,500 during election day itself from various candidates. They got P50 to P100 for councilors and increasing to about P200 P300 for mayoralty and congressional candidates.

Of course it goes without saying that you would never know whether those who got the sample ballots ever voted for the candidate who gave them money but in general, they do vote, as per my interviews in the past.

That is why even if you go around banks, historically, apart from the annual bonuses and thirteenth month, their busiest time are the weeks and days leading to D-day.

In fact, I've read somewhere that banks have agreed there will be no massive withdrawals at least a week before elections day this year, to prevent vote-buying I guess. But announcing it way ahead of time just allows these politicians and political parties to secure money weeks ahead for D-day.

Screen monitors may help ensure transparency in our votes. But I think this act will also lead to proliferation of vote buying. This time around, with screen monitors to verify who voted for the candidate, the watchers can actually tell their bosses who they should give incentives for those votes.

Whereas before we can still advocate to the people to just get the money and not vote for those corrupt politicians, now Comelec has just given these politicians more ammunition to ensure they only spend for those who voted for them.

It seems bleak but until we learn as a people to elect our leaders based on their qualifications and capacity to govern sans graft and corruption, no matter what measures we put, politicians will always find a way around the system.

Another point raised by Bing are the oversized posters that have sprouted just because there was an opinion that posters can be set up in private properties and will not violate the illegal postering clause.

I have been around Bacolod and have seen the oversized tarpaulin of Vice-Governor Bong Lacson which was also shown a couple of weeks ago in this paper, covering the whole façade of an abandoned building along Araneta St. Actually, gargantuan is probably the apt word to use.

Vice-Gov has more along Aguinaldo St. and circumferential roads which I passed on the way to a burial in Sum-ag a couple of weeks ago bearing the same message of safe travel to motorists.

One would think Vice-Gov is seeking a position in Bacolod as his own posters have dwarfed those of actual candidates of Bacolod. But then again, he must have very rich patrons who allow their premises to be covered with his tarpaulins.

I've seen a couple of oversized ones bearing Gov. Freddie Marañon and Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer too both in the north and south of Bacolod's borders. There is one of Jeffrey alongside Cano Tan in CL Montelibano near the circumferential road in Homesite but nothing as big as that of Lacson who must have prepared so much for his campaign.

I think we should encourage the public to send us photos of massive postering particularly those that tack their posters on trees so the candidates' attention can be called.

Local election campaign is yet to start but we already have rekoridas roaming our streets. I've seen one along Mabini road a couple of Sundays ago, a red mini-van that plays the jingle of Cano Tan.

But generally, it is still silent in the wee hours of the morning. But I bet that right after the Holy Week leading to May 9, these rekoridas will test our patience. I just hope our candidates will have the decency to tell their campaigners to avoid private homes and allow us to have our 8 hours of sleep at the very least.

While there are wows, there are more woes especially the additional hours that will be added to the voting process because of these monitors. And that is just in the precinct level. We have yet to discuss extensively the harassment, road closures and election-related killings that sometimes it makes me think it's wiser if we have elections every six years instead of every three years.*


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