Friday, August 6, 2010

As I Was Saying

After two months of a forced vacation from this blog, I was more than eager to check where I left off after a series of computer hardware and network problems cut off my regular access to the internet right here in Lianga. For a time I toyed with the idea of updating this blog from other locations or by using other means of going online but I have. over the years, become essentially an old fashoned creature of habit and working online by flitting from one internet shop to another in guerrilla fashion or relying on laptops and other portable devices has never been my kind of thing.

I am and have always been a plodder of sorts even in my blogging. As a result, I have always favored spending a leisurely hour or two pondering on and composing my blog posts directly on the internet and simply tossing off a hurried blog entry on a portable computer or mobile phone was simply something I was never entirely comfortable with doing. I tried blogging that way and it never felt right.

In fact, I miss my old and trusty desktop computer and and the new one that has replaced it while certainly is a lot more faster as well as more reliable (it blazes through while the old one was just content to simply stagger and trot along), it does not have the cantankerous yet whimsical and rather eccentric personality of my old setup which made it seem like more like a collaborator and partner to me than just another sophisticated piece of electronic equipment.

My last blog post on the aftermath of the May 10 national and local elections generated more than the usual number of comments. But sad to say very little of what was said in most of them had actually little value at all at expanding the intelligent discussion of the problem of the numerous incidents of vote buying and other forms of electoral malfeasance that was the subject of that particular post. It was clearly apparent that more than a few individuals may have felt alluded to in the post and the same or their friends did respond rather vociferously in return albeit with remarks notable more for their emotion and obfuscation rather than actual substance.

It was Mark's comment, as usual, that saved the day.

Mark, of course, is an American national who got married to a local girl and who has basically become a local fixture here. He regularly comments on the posts to this blog (see comments section) and his views on the many issues raised here have the balanced yet penetrating perspective of one who, despite his being a foreigner, has experienced, on a first hand basis, the local culture and has directly and personally participated himself, for some time now in the community life of this area.

On the issue of how vote-buying in has become a regular fixture in elections specially in the countryside, he has pointed out that politicians, by force of necessity, often have to resort to offering money and consumer goods for people's votes because the practice has become so widespread that no serious contender for local elective positions would have a fighting chance at winning unless he sets aside his scruples and actively bribe voters when he can.

It has gotten to the point that much of a local political candidate's resources and electoral machinery (especially in the latter stages of the election period) have to be devoted to insuring that voters and voting blocks in crucial areas receive their money and non-monetary "incentives" efficiently and with the minimum of fuss and delay. Family members, close relative and trusted individuals are usually put in-charge of this rather sensitive and critical task which may be more important to electoral victory than the actual village sorties and political speeches candidates actually and legitimately make as part of the official campaign period.

The last local polls has also been marred by allegations that certain powerful politicians here have used rigged PCOS machines with tampered CF memory cards to manipulate the local vote on an unprecedented scale. That remains to be proven beyond doubt but even if the allegations are true it is also clear that despite the technical sophistication of this form of electoral fraud, it was, as such criminal acts are, done in the shadows and beyond the awareness of the general public. Such schemes are planned in secret, executed covertly and the whole process hidden from public knowledge by unscrupulous individuals who know that the society and the electorate will never countenance or tolerate such cheating.

Vote buying is, on the other hand and in one sense, more insidious because it requires the consent and cooperation, if not grudging approval, of many voters. It lulls many into believing in the misconception that they are really profiting from their sale of their vote when in truth they are merely destroying the very democracy that they are supposed to safeguard and protect.

Both forms of electoral deceit are, beyond any doubt, despicable in themselves but, in my view, the latter is more than despicable. Being cheated unknowingly of your vote is a tragedy of enormous consequence but even more tragic is participating knowingly and willingly in the bastardization of the very individual right on which the very survival of our struggling democracy depends on - the very same individual right which must remain free, principled and unrestrained if we in this community and country will have a fighting chance of finally having a government and society we can truly call our own.


  1. Anonymous1:35 PM

    So much had been said about the election that passed and it brings me to the conclusion that the people finally speak out in the national level for voting P-noy despite all odds. The time for change is now and we should not let it pass because if we will there might be no more chance in the future. Whatever decisions made by Pnoy we should respect it, because i feel that what he meant is deep in his heart and we should also share the responsibilities in bringing back the trust and confidence of the people to the government. As a government servant we should be honest in all our dealings with our clients. Report any incident of corrupt practices. Be vigilant.

  2. Benjie,
    I really hope things start to change soon here in our community and all throughout this wonderful country.
    I hope people start standing for the right things and I hope they do it with diligent intentions. I hope people start using their names when they say things that are important, the earlier comment by Anonymous is a comment to be proud of, so they should take ownership of it.
    I believe this is the time to take a stand, to perform an overnight change in attitude of all the people in this country. No longer should they sit by and accept corrupt practices, SOP's, Fake Documents, etc. It's time for a change and your new president, I believe, will support citizens bringing these corruptions to the light of scrutiny.
    Mark and Merejen