The cases of vote buying cloud this Monday the elections in the Philippines, which chooses, among other local and provincial positions, its next president, with “Bongbong” Marcos, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, as the favorite.
”They gave me 14,500 pesos (about 274 dollars), a lot of money. I did not expect it, I can fix several things in my house that I wanted for a long time”Allan Rosales, 31, tells Efe by phone.
Rosales (a pseudonym) speaks from the tourist island of Siargao, in the south of the archipelago, where he claims to have been bribed to vote for a certain mayoral candidate, which he prefers not to reveal.
Some 67 of the 108 million Filipinos are called to vote this Monday throughout the archipelago to elect the occupants of the presidency and vice presidency for the next six years, as well as 12 seats in the Senate, Congress and numerous provincial and municipal positions. .
The polls suggest a clear victory for Marcos, who is 33 percentage points ahead of his closest rival, Leni Robredo, despite his father’s legacy of plunder and oppression.
Marcos is presented in tandem with Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the outgoing president, the controversial Rodrigo Duterte, who is the favorite for the position of vice president.
DELIVERY OF CASH
Handing over cash in exchange for votes is a common practice in the Philippines and other Asian democraciesbut this year the value of the votes has increased with respect to the previous elections, according to the Legal Network for Clean Elections (LENTE, for its acronym in English), an association of volunteers that monitors and denounces abuses and fraud during elections .
According to what Ona Rosales, one of the coordinators at LENTE in Manila, told Efe, buying votes has been a common practice in elections, but “since the electoral processes were digitized, more and more is paid for votes,” and adds that bribery methods “are becoming more and more sophisticated.”
For example, the 274 dollars that the resident of Siargao claims to have received contrasts with the minimum wage in that area of the country, below 320 pesos a day (6.14 dollars), so the amount “donated” is almost 50% higher than the monthly income of many workers.
Although these practices occur with the votes for all candidacies, both for the positions of mayors, governors, congressmen and in the case of candidates for the presidency and vice presidency, the frequency and the money offered to voters is significantly higher in the positions local, says Rosales.
NO IMPACT DATA
The coordinator highlights that, although “there is no data on the influence of these bribes on the final result of the elections, at the local level (their incidence) is much higher, because it is much easier for them to organize these meetings and hide these practices”, Rosales details.
Methods of reaching final voters with bribes vary. The campaigns of some candidates allocate a parallel budget to “convince” the voters of each district in meetings held in their respective barangay (neighborhoods in Tagalog), where they are told about the program and “and where they almost always end up giving an envelope with cash,” explains Rosales.
The captains of the barangay, the local authority in each neighborhood, are in charge of distributing the gifts among the voters.
“They have given me 500 pesos (about 9.5 dollars), but I am not going to vote for the candidate who has paid me”tells Efe Grace Matos (a pseudonym), a 38-year-old from Manila, from Taguig, in Manila, who explains that she believes that there is no way to verify which candidate she voted for today, nor does she want to reveal it.
However, in some of these meetings, in which cash is usually given in envelopes with the ballot paper already marked with the candidate’s candidacy, an acknowledgment of receipt is requested.
“We ask people to hide their cell phones and take a photo to verify that they vote for our candidate,” a campaign manager for a vice-presidential candidate whose name he prefers not to reveal tells Efe.
In the polling stations in the Philippines it is forbidden to enter with cell phones, but “there is no other way to check it,” adds the same source, who admits having bought numerous votes during the week before the elections in a district of Quezon City, the city most inhabited area of the Manila metropolitan area.
(with information from EFE)
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the former Philippine dictator, favorite to succeed Rodrigo Duterte in the country’s presidency