EDITORIAL | May 12, 2019
As the midterm election is coming closer, massive vote-buying is reported everywhere in the country. But while there are reports in the past that violators had been held, no one so far was reported penalized. This might be the reason why the mal-practice of vote-buying proliferates in Lanao del Sur and elsewhere, and why political clans control powers.
But never had there been an expose of ‘vote-buying and selling’ when some sectors had gone to asking President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to declare a ‘failure of election’ in Lanao del Sur or put the province under control of the Commission on Election (COMELEC) for alleged massive vote-buying, even resorting through media platforms.
Last week, so-called Muslim religious leaders and retired officers called on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the massive vote-buying in Lanao del Sur and in the distressed Marawi City allegedly by a group of candidates seeking key local government positions.
Fatani Abdulmalik, president of the Ulama and Imams Association of the Philippines, also urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to place Lanao del Sur and Marawi City under its control, saying that rampant vote buying could subvert the results of the midterm polls.
The Lanao Military and Police Retirees Reform Movement said the vote-buying scheme was set into motion by several candidates for provincial positions who connived with mayors, who in turn tapped the services of barangay chairpersons to distribute the money to voters.
Signatories of the complaint letter included retired Col. Pangalawan D. Ampatuan and Col. Linog M. Bagul, both retired police officers and retired Army Col. Mastura D. Lao.
A similar appeal was sent to Malacanang by Lanao del Sur lawyer Salic Dumarpa with more than 600 individuals affidavits tacked to the letter as proof of vote buying.
Quoted by media, Dumarpa, former commissioner of the National Labor Relations Commission, explained that the entire operation to subvert the will of the people of Lanao del Sur covered “vote buying, coercion and intimidation.”
“Your fears that dirty politicians will destroy the sanctity and credibility of the elections through massive vote buying is now happening in the province of Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, the letter of appeal said.
“In particular, registered voters in Marawi City have been flocking to the houses of barangay (village) chairmen who act as leaders of the ‘buyer-candidates’ to receive the package of P6,000 coming from five candidates namely, Mamintal Adiong Jr. for governor, P500; Mujam Adiong for vice governor, P500; Ansarrodin Adiong for congressman, P1,000; Majul Gandamra for city mayor, P3,000; and Anoar Rumaros for city vice mayor, P1,000,” the letter added.
Village Chiefs act campaign managers
In Lanao del Sur the barangay village chairmen act as leaders of the candidates through whom money to buy votes are channeled. They are the ones who give money to the registered electors in their barangays to vote for their candidates.
In many villages, people come to the chiefs to get the money which is ranging from 3 to 5 thousand pesos per elector for the provincial level.
Vote buying promotes corruption, which is a reality. It also perpetuates political dynasty where clans are holding powers for a long time at the expense of majority of the people.
If Lanao del Sur has been a consistent Philippine Number One poor country, corruption plays a major role, a menace sustained by vote buying that makes political leaders vulnerable to corruption and become incompetent to uplift the condition of the province.
Disgruntled move to grab powers
But the move is called by the Team Adiong 2019 a destabilization effort of a few disgruntled members of the society “who are intent on grabbing power for themselves through extra-legal means.”
In a statement, Team Adiong 2019 said it is ironic that one of those who spearhead the movement was himself involved in vote-buying when he and his spouse were actively involved in politics. It was referring to former Congresswoman Faysah Dumarpa, wife of Salic.
Team Adiong 2019 is a tandem of provincial vice governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong, Jr., who is again running for governor on May 13; his son Mujah running for vice governor, and his brother Lanao del Sur congressman reelectionist Ansaruddin.
Adiong Jr. is a graduated 9-termer Lanao del Sur governor. In 2016, he ran for vice governor while his mother Bai Soraya Alonto Adiong ran for the province’ top executive post and his brother Ansaruddin for congressman. They all won.
“While we have the evidence to prove our claim, we will not resort to mudslinging,” said the statement.
“As leaders, it is our obligation to set an example and show respect for the rule of law. Hence, we choose to settle our grievances before the proper forum. We exhort the very few — who pretend to speak for the majority – to drop the calls for failure of election, to let the electorate cast their votes, and let democracy work for Lanao del Sur,” it said.
Team Adiong asked the people not to allow opportunists to roughshod our cherished democracy. “The people should decide. Let us allow stability, peace, and development to flourish in Lanao del Sur,” the team added.
Call for an ‘election failure’ dirty politics
The expose of massive vote-buying is laudable. Vote-buying in Lanao del Sur is as old as electoral history. And keen observers believe with the present system, there is no way to stop it except to have no election at all in a locality full of corruption.
However, knowing at who is behind the present move to declare a failure of election in Lanao del Sur, it can only be surmised that it is another “dirty politics” scheme employed by local politicians in their ambition to grab the powers.
It is not easy to topple the traditional politicians (Trapos) who already had rooted their powerful connections like giant trees. In the case of provincial levels, the easy way to topple the trapos is to replace them and it is said the president can do that for his trusted men if there is no election.
But there must be valid reasons to declare ‘no election’ and a strong legal basis to replace the incumbents. Even then, one must have very close ties with the chief executive, if he is allowed by law, in order to be appointed or designated to his aspired political post.
This is the very point why the orchestrated expose on massive vote buying and move to declare a failure of election in Lanao del Sur suddenly cropped up in the media.
Some contenders in the provincial race are behind this move. They know even if they have money to buy votes, they could not defeat the incumbents. They have weak machinery and their past record cannot help them convince the electors that they could make any difference for the better.
Ironically, many leaders of the “no to vote buying” advocacy were former politicians whose money propelled them once to powers but lost to their opponents either because they could not match their opponents’ resources or the people had decided to replace them.
Not so many know perhaps that the so-called ‘foremost’ religious leaders and the retired officers who publicly asked President Duterte through the media to declare a failure of elections in Lanao del Sur allegedly due to massive vote-buying are but supporters of these contenders.
And assuming elections in Lanao del Sur failed, will President Duterte approve these political climbers the helm of the provincial government? Observers presumed the president, having known already who the political climbers are, has someone other than them in mind. (MNY)