The Vicious Cycle of Vote-buying and Vote-selling

In Philippines’ politics, there are no permanent friends or foes – only permanent cost. Yes! Permanent cost: the root cause of corruption and fiefdom’s perpetration.

To run a decent election campaign, be it national or local, one would need an enormous wad of money flowing continuously. Apart from the election machinery, the cogs of which require an ample supply of grease to keep it moving, voters from Class D and E – those unemployed, hangers on, and sycophants – for them, election, is their chance to leech blood from politicians. Millions of them repeatedly troop to politicians and juiced them with such basics as; meals, burial expenses, bridges, artesian wells, basketball court and dole outs, for which politicians can’t say no, lest they can be construed as unsympathetic to people’s needs, and ground to loose their votes. Sorry to say, but politicians during election becomes a witting hostage. But soon after election, it’s payback time, because it’s the people now who will be hostage of the politician’s whims.

Politicians are not stupid, of course. Remuneration for the position they coveted are miniscule. The only way they can recoup their investment is through corruption, by way of their assumed power, privileges, perks, and influence. Discreet or brazen their corruption is, it doesn’t matter: because, for politicians, everyone has a price. And as they accumulate wealth to buy more people out, they build their fiefdom. They will protect this little kingdom with blood, if it needs be. This “vicious cycle” of vote-buying and vote-selling, perpetuates the evil of corruptions, the victim of which is the nation. And it trickles down to its citizens, who bear the brunt. Whose fault is it anyway?

Evolution of mature democracies in the world found a way of reining this “vicious cycle” through electoral reform. Electoral reform might be long time coming to the Philippines as the country needed an upside down overhaul of its culture, but it has to start somewhere, somehow.

Politicians of mature western democracies, in general, don’t spend their own money when running for office. They fund raise for their political expenses from their constituents. If their constituents believe the politician is an asset to the political party which can bring positive changes to their lives, their constituents wouldn’t hesitate to support. Then the political party, to which the politician belongs, provides the machinery. Political Parties, in essence, are strengthened institutions; abide with principles and ideologies on how best they can serve the nation, and the populations’interest and welfare.

Instituting strengthened political parties is a basic necessity for a truly workable democracy. Politicians belonging to a certain party, for example, require that they espoused the principles and ideologies of the party. This in turn is the idea the politicians will sell to electorates during election time. The battle grounds between political parties are methods, systems, and procedures to which voters are given choices which party could give them the best.

Would there be a chance for the Philippines to institute strengthened political parties that discourage the “vicious cycle” of vote-buying and vote-selling? That’s a million dollar question. But not until this question is confronted and dealt with, this “vicious cycle” would continue to roll, and the Philippine politics would remain juvenile.