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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, May 15, 2019
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Digong and vote-buying

Ninfa Leonardia

The people have spoken through their ballots in what appears to be one of the most peaceful and cleanest elections in several years, thanks to the aid of corresponding electronic devices that have made cheating and manipulation of results virtually impossible. So far, as the reader must have noticed, we have not heard yet of any candidate, whether for local or national elections, crying “I’ve been cheated!” If there are any who believe so, we have not heard them cry out yet.

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Even in places where voters had felt their voices may not matter because of circumstances they were unable to control, we got quite a surprise, because the voting went on peacefully, and the electorate had been able to express their choices without hindrance. Let us all be thankful that changes have been made in places where the people wanted change, and the status quo remained where the voters were satisfied with what they had.

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Let us hope and pray that, henceforth, our elections will be as peaceful and credible. It is also very reassuring to note that, so far, we have not heard or known of any complaints against the people manning the precincts who, as most may have noted, were very efficient, helpful and knowledgeable about their responsibility. I think voting this time was a more pleasant experience, except for those who claimed they had to stand in line for hours to be able to cast their votes. I hope our Comelec sets up a means to avoid that next time. How about giving voters coming in, numbers, so they can wait in comfort for their turn?

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Well, we are not going through this exercise again for several years yet, so there is time to make changes. I would say, though, that this was one of the most efficient and simplest manner of voting I have ever gone through. Not having to write down by hand the names of so many candidates had been such a tiresome task that, it was no wonder many skipped going to the polls, unless they had a special interest to do so, like having a favored candidate one is supporting. I am very sure, more improvements will come in the next few years. Cross your fingers.

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Monday night, we went to the headquarters of our candidates and I was really surprised to see most of my young nephews and nieces, some in their elementary grades, also there, avidly watching the screen where the running tally of votes was being shown! And they all seemed very interested, and seriously watching out for the way their favorite bets were doing. Of course we were all biased, I admit, and hoping for the attainment of the 15-0 dream. I think the future of politics in our country looks more secure.

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As of this writing, the winners in the Bacolod contest have not yet been proclaimed because of some hitch, but this may have taken place by the time this issue comes out. So far the dream of the incumbents for a 15-0 result seems on the verge of being realized. That should be good for the city because it could mean that plans or projects being proposed, if worthwhile, will have smoother sailing than when the council is composed of strongly opposing members. I wonder if this is the first time this has happened in the city?

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Meanwhile, I was quite amused at two top stories of the national daily, our “tocaya”, The Philippine Star. One said: PNP: At least 300 suspected voter-buyers arrested”. While the banner story went: “Vote-buying an integral part of Phl elections – Rody”. And don’t ask, “Rody, who?” Because that was our president being quoted. And he justifies it by saying it is because of poverty that this exists. As usual, he sounds logical, but if it is against the law, why does he seem to be condoning it?

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Since he does not seem to be against the practice, perhaps he can urge the two law-making bodies to pass one that decriminalize vote-buying? Maybe, as one prankster said, just include in the law a provision saying it is illegal if you are caught. Did you hear that, Mr. President?*

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