Random Thoughts

Systematic vote-buying in Dagupan?

By Leonardo Micua

WE wanted to temper our column this issue because we just finished the observance of the Lenten Season, and having been to our respective churches. But we cannot be silenced by what we see as a systematic vote-buying happening under our very noses, which we believe is a mockery of our democratic way of life.   

And so we ask: Has the shameless systematic vote-buying scheme using stolen data stored in Comelec files before the 2016 elections been resurrected? If it did, this will surely make the coming elections in Dagupan City truly ugly.  And apparently that appears to be the case today.

Many voters in Dagupan were reportedly issued pieces of paper stub that looked like a passport to vote-buying center, or better call it “redemption center”.

This paper allegedly contained the name of the voter, with corresponding numbers and a bar code that will identify the bearer. When the paper was exposed to a bar code reader inside the redemption center, the picture and the biometric data of the person appeared.

Once the identify of the bearer was validated, and a brief interview is conducted, he/she was handed cash and grocery items usually placed in plastic pails.

We are seeing the same modus utilized in 2016 elections. Apparently, the hacker or hackers of the Comelec’s voters’ file sold the same system to affluent candidates in Dagupan. 

Fortunately, the scheme was discovered early enough. And the 2016 experience should teach the new operators that the modus didn’t work, meaning, the candidate that employed the scheme didn’t win. The voters just took the money and voted with their conscience.

 So we won’t be surprised if the same illegal modus will happen to the new operators.

We, therefore, call on the Comelec and the police to investigate this matter thoroughly with no cover-up in order not to cast doubt on the integrity of the coming elections.

If the poll body fails do anything about it and is unable to prosecute those responsible, its campaign for honest and credible election will go to naught. For what was the covenant signed by the candidates last January 13 for if some candidates can violate election rules with impunity and will not be made to account for their illegal actions?  

In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the same vote-buying modus is also being adopted in other towns and cities.

What is clear from the investigation is that it is not the incumbent that is being implicated.

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Before we went to press before Holy Wednesday (yes, we advanced our deadline as usual because of the Holy Week) we also heard that a minion of one candidate handed out P100 bills to barangay residents to dissuade them from attending the rally of a rival candidate. 

Well, they did not accept the money and instead packed their favorite candidate’s rally. In this case, they showed their maturity by telling a kagawad to back off because they are insulting them no end as they are not worth just P100.

That’s the kind of political maturity that is badly expected of every citizen who loves his /her beloved city and cares for the future of their children. 

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The signing of the 2019 national budget of by President Duterte but vetoing the items worth P95 billion inserted supposedly by the House of Representatives after the same was already ratified during a bicameral conference by leaders of both chambers is a clear victory of the Senate, especially Senate President Tito Sotto and Senator Ping Lacson.      

Both raised the issue and never wavered in their contention that whatever items inserted after budget ratification is unconstitutional and must be rejected.

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