Bought votes

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    AN HONEST politician is one who, when bought, stays bought.

    So a wag once said and the witticism spun on a life of its own, all types of careers, all kinds of humans readily substituting for the politician, thus

    An honest judge is one who when bought, stays bought.

    An honest cop is one who when bought, stays bought.

    An honest journalist is one who when bought, stays bought.

    Ad nauseam. More apt, nauseous ad infinitum.

    An honest voter though – in the above mold – is one who, when bought, won’t stay but can still be bought. 

    Selling not only to the highest bidder but to any and all bidders.

    This is the lesson said of the 2010 elections in Bacolor, Pampanga.

    That is if all the loose talks around the once capital of the Philippines, the once capital of Pampanga and the all-time most lahar-ravaged town are to be taken as seriously as the multi-million peso quarry industry.

    That is if former two-time mayor and current Vice Mayor Ananias “Junior” Canlas and former board member and third congressional district also-ran Ferdinand “Dinan” Labung are to be believed.

    Last Sunday, at the latter’s towering building near the public works and highways regional office, the duo – a lose-win tandem in 2010 – did not only express fears over what they claimed were existent 7,000 “flying voters” in the town’s electorate roster but exposed how they could have been used most decisively to tip the outcome of the elections.

    ‘Illegal registrants as well as some legitimate voters,” said Junior, the lawyer, were herded like some domesticated beasts of burden in some big pens, provided with basic necessities and prevented from leaving one to two days before election day.

    This was to prevent them from re-selling their votes to the rivals of the candidate that corralled them.

    In the dark of dawn, hours before precinct opening, the pack formed lines leading to the polling places, under the watchful eye of cowherds to ensure that they cast their votes as dictated.  

    “The long lines of unfamiliar faces so early in the morning discouraged in some ways real Bacolor residents from voting altogether,” Junior says with the conviction of an evangelizing bible-toter.

    The once gubernatorial candidate holds that it was these “illegal voters” that could have diminished his winning margin in 2010 to a diminutive nine votes.

    “The good people of Bacolor, not strangers, deserve to choose their own leaders.” So declared Dinan, the former village chief of Barangay San Antonio, the former board member, the former congressional and mayoral candidate, and foremost engineer-contractor.

    “I am not a sore loser. But I want a fair fight. Anybody, including myself, could have won in the 2010 elections if the list of voters was purged.” So said the second runner-up in the Bacolor mayoralty contest.

    “It’s so rewarding and peaceful to win in a fair and clean fight. I raised not just my two arms but two feet to winners in 2010.

    But our people deserve an honest and orderly election next time,” furthered Dinan as he enjoined the residents and local officials – Mayor Jose Maria “Jomar” Hizon foremost – to cleanse the town’s voters’ list of illegal registrants. T

    ruly, an act as daunting as cleaning the Augean stables of myth.

    What sayeth Jomar, the mayor, of this?

    “My political enemies are resorting to old and customary tactics and it appears that they are bankrupt of ideas.”

    So disdainfully dismissed hizzoner, in text messages, of the plaint raised by Junior and Dinan. “Matagal nang kumita ang ganyan style. Modern technology na ngayon.”

    Less mayoral, lessr ministerial, least magisterial, most propagandistically political was Jomar’s response.

    Nobody but nobody has been accused yet of any hand in this flying voters issue. Its very veracity yet to be established. And already he consigned it to his rivals’ bankruptcy of ideas.

    Rather too rash for someone said to have had some studies in law. Methinks, the least the mayor could have done was to join in calling for a no-nonsense investigation. If only to purify the right of suffrage of his people.

    By drawing the partisan line, diametrically in contradiction to that of whistleblowers Junior and Dinan – unwittingly, I supposed – Jomar assumed the antagonist, if not  accused, stand.

    The burden of proof – that there indeed are 7,000 flying voters extant in Bacolor – while now in Junior and Dinan’s backs, would most weigh down, mayhaps even crush Jomar’s re-election bid when – not if – established as fact.

    No unwitting beneficiary would he be deemed then.

    Fairly easy job. There’s the Commission on Elections. All you have to do is ask.      

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