Bro­ken elec­tion rules

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION -

The fil­ing of the cer­tifi­cates of can­di­dacy for the May 14 barangay and Sang­gu­ni­ang Ka­bataan (SK) elec­tions started last Satur­day and will end on Fri­day, April 20. This will be fol­lowed by the nine-day cam­paign pe­riod from May 4 to May 12. Like in all the other elec­tions be­fore this, the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec) has set guide­lines, some of which are of­ten breached.

Con­sider the rule that barangay and SK polls are non-par­ti­san. Even Com­elec of­fi­cials know this isn’t true but they ride on the lie any­way, plug­ging their ears and look­ing away when politi­cians in cities, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and prov­inces ma­neu­ver to have their party mates in the barangays win the elec­tions.

In Cebu City, for ex­am­ple, the ad­min­is­tra­tion Bando Osmeña-Pun­dok Kauswa­gan (BOPK) and the op­po­si­tion Barug Team Rama have never hid­den the fact that they are field­ing their peo­ple in the polls. In the barangays, the not so well-kept se­cret is who among the can­di­dates are with BOPK and who are with Barug Team Rama. The non-par­ti­san pro­vi­sion is the most vi­o­lated rule but no­body is com­plain­ing.

Our elec­tion laws are clear on what con­sti­tutes cheat­ing. But cheats among can­di­dates abound be­cause not many have been pe­nal­ized for cheat­ing and some can­di­dates did win by re­sort­ing to it. This has got­ten to the point that cheats who win are praised for be­ing wily while non-cheats who lose are called stupid.

One good ex­am­ple is vote-buy­ing, which has made the barangay and SK elec­tions an ex­pen­sive process. Buy­ing votes, like be­ing par­ti­san in elec­tions, has so be­come an ac­cepted prac­tice that in ev­ery elec­tions the cost of do­ing it has got­ten higher. Peo­ple are no longer talk­ing about buy­ing a vote for P50 or P100; in­stead, P500 or P1,000 and even more has be­come the go­ing price es­pe­cially in the SK polls that have a smaller vot­ing pop­u­la­tion to buy.

Ev­ery­body, from the Com­elec to politi­cians down to the vot­ers, knows that some of the im­por­tant pro­vi­sions of our elec­tion laws are mere cha­rades but we re­tain them and wal­low in the pre­tense, like the em­peror in the Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen tale who con­tin­ued the pro­ces­sion even if a child had blurted out that he was wear­ing no clothes at all.

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