P500 on top of a sample ballot
P500 on top of a sample ballot

It isn’t only the powerful who mock the very laws they either passed themselves or which they’re mandated to enforce. There’s the same lawlessness among many ordinary folk that’s manifest not only in such transgressions as smoking in enclosed spaces, but also in selling their votes come election time.

Vote-buying during elections has become so widespread it is now “normal,” whether during presidential or mid-term elections. But it’s not so much those who sell their votes who’re to blame. The price for one’s vote can make a difference in whether a family eats for the day or not, and the warlordism that reigns in many communities forces many to vote as commanded rather than according to one’s preferences.  

It is the corrupt and essentially lawless political class that by using intimidation, violence and vote-buying has made a farce out of Philippine elections and democracy, in which the right to choose to whom  citizens can delegate their sovereign powers is fundamental.

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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