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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, May 16, 2018
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with Matè Espina

Same old, same old

Rock & Refuge

Change is indeed scamming, not coming, as this administration promised.

Post-election reports were filled with stories of rampant vote-buying and definitely these were not from independent candidates but those backed by local politicians.

I had an early morning call from an uncle who complained of vote buying from contenders in Brgy. Montevista – one backed by a politico, another backed by a wealthy businessman. As much as P500 was allegedly given to voters and to think that this is one of the smallest barangays we have, with just 2,000 residents.

My uncle’s family has lived in Montevista, popularly known as Homesite, for more than four decades. We grew up in that community too, but most of those we know have either transferred homes or gone abroad and only a few of our acquaintances have remained.

Though sick, my uncle went out to cast his vote, believing that the conduct may have changed as pronounced by this administration. Alas, all he got was disappointment and more blatant vote-buying that he even volunteered to speak publicly about it.

Another friend who also voted in Brgy.Handumanan said the same thing. They actually got P500 each in their household and though he gladly accepted the token, he voted for a different candidate.

But at the end of the day, I think a lot will agree, especially those who received something, that money remained a great factor in the outcome of the recent election. Just shows how scared our local politicians are about 2019.

I went to Brgy. Villamonte to cast my vote last Monday at 10 in the morning and the heat was just terrible.

I bumped into a couple of media practitioners who were doing the rounds and we approached three ladies who were manning the reception area to know where my precinct was. It turned out they were bystanders and there was no one assigned there to answer our queries, directing us instead to the other side of the school building.

At the other building, the PPCRV representatives were busy entertaining requests and complaints from voters who did not find their names on the list. The daughter of a neighbour who was a first time voter was so disappointed after finding out her name wasn’t in the list despite registering early with our local Comelec.

I left my media friends to work on their assignments and cast my vote. I didn’t personally know any of the candidates for village chief so I went ahead to vote for someone whom a friend suggested. Neither did I know any of those bidding for kagawad except one, so I voted for him and for an uncle of a friend who made a pitch on social media. The rest, I left blank but scribbled a long line each entry to ensure that no other names will be placed there. After all, this election is not automated and magic can definitely occur.

I left feeling contented that I was able to perform my duty but remained sceptical about the results knowing that it was still a futile exercise just by listening to others who were clearly boasting at how much they got from their candidate.

The voters turnout was noticeably low compared to the presidential election where people can be seen lining up for their turn.

A lot of my friends did not go out to vote. Many of them said it will still be the same and though I believed them, I was just so tired of what’s been happening that I also knew if I do not do something about it, I have no right to complain. This was my first barangay election and though none of the three people I voted for won a seat, I am still glad I got to exercise my right.

The president himself skipped the barangay polls and what a wonderful example he was to the populace.

Monday’s election will hopefully not be a determining factor in next year’s poll, otherwise, we are just doomed if we allow this practice to continue. After hearing stories of who funded who, I now know whom to vote for in 2019 and it is definitely not the one who largely funded the recent election.

Perhaps there were really some candidates who won squarely in this election and hats off to them if they got in without resorting to vote-buying. But a check will show they are few and far between.

It looks and sounds dreary but unless we also took it upon ourselves to take some responsibility and work for real change, then let’s not gripe about it and just swallow the same old process.*

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