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The Impact Of Money In Philippine Elections

Election campaigns are now on the move. Politicians are getting busy thinking about many ways to ensure their triumph in the coming elections. Different strategies and techniques are being used by these candidates to be able to gain the votes of the folks. Apart from the techniques and strategies, money plays an enormous role in every Philippine elections. The ability to win of the prospect lies about how much money they're going to spend for this returning election.

The aspiring applicants will definitely spend a sizable amount of money to capture the hearts of the voters even if it means performing an illegitimate act. A single vote is very important and needed for the win an applicant. And to be able to have this sole sure vote, candidates resort to buying the votes of folks.

Vote buying is overt in the Philippines. It is a disease that continually rots our political and electoral system. It has already become institutionalized inside our system and remains regular regardless of the condemnation of many Filipinos. Before, vote buying is usually the last recourse of the abundant but unpopular prospect to hold a posture in office. But today, even popular ones are engaging themselves to the kind of activity because popularity by itself is not enough to assure the vote of the electorate especially in local politics.

Vote buying reflects a powerful image of graft and corruption. It is merely the stepping natural stone for doing a more fraudulent act.

The vicious circuit of vote buying and vote offering in the Philippines is becoming more and more alarming. This newspaper aspires to answer the type of vote buying, strategies of vote buying in the Philippines, the reason why for doing vote buying and vote selling and to trace the annals of vote buying in the Philippines.


Vote buying, according to Hicken (2006), includes the average person, immediate and private exchange of goods, services or cash for electoral support, usually in violation of legal norms. It simply means offering or offering money to market leaders and voters. In addition, it means getting the vote of the visitors to ensure winning. Vote buying is also a kind of economical exchange (Schaffer, 2002) because there is money involve.


Vote buying can be categorized into two types: direct vote buying and indirect vote buying. Both types are widely used regarding the Philippines although the idea of direct vote buying functions as the popular act.


It is the most common kind of vote buying where direct obligations, in many forms, are given to the voter. It may be by means of cash donations, shares of stock or a guarantee of a particular plan of action or payment in trade for a promises of vote (Dekel, E. , et. al. , 2004).


It is some sort of vote buying done in a non apparent and straightforward way. This type of vote buying uses campaign strategies that target the weaknesses of the electorate. Here in the Philippines, the strategy of the candidates is by using and take benefit of the several Filipino traits. Example of these characteristics are our beliefs of utang na loob, pakikisama, our close family and kinship ties, our religiousness, and other public values like devotion, support and trust. They effectively use the many traits to effect and temp us to check out their selfish strategies.

Bava (1998) provided a concrete example about how this figure capitalization happens. Different gatherings and candidates employ the service of poll watchers and workers who are tasked to send out sample ballots because of their get together. Each poll watchers and ballot vendors receive 1500 pesos and 500 pesos respectively, per day of work from 7 am to 3 pm. A poll watcher only needs 4 things in order to land the work: 1) a ball pen 2) a tally sheet 3) at least 18 years of age and 4) a authorized vote (Bava, 1998). The final requirement is the most important and helpful in the area of the candidates. When the chosen person is a authorized voter, the employer will make sure that the employer's vote goes to him or her. A person offered with this kind of job will definitely take the ability given all the privileges and comfort so it can give. They are able to earn almost 1500 pesos per day by just distributing pamphlets and sample ballots. Adding to the convenience is the free dishes given to them by their workplace. In case the candidate won in the elections, almost all of them receive permanent jobs in a variety of government offices. That's where indirect vote buying takes place. This act, regarding to Bava (1998), shows the Filipino trait of utang na loob. If one has done something good to us, we'd do anything and everything to return that goodness. In this case, the poll watchers and other employees will feel obligated to vote the candidate/employer because of the job that was presented with to them.


Money is the common type of materials that the candidates use to be able to buy votes. But vote buying not only calls for the form of money. It can be other varieties of material offers. Schedler (2002) and Schaffer (2002) made a list that summarizes the various varieties of offers into three categories.

The first and the most common form is repayment. A payment can be an amount of money paid. Schedler (2002, p. 4) referred to it as a "commercial marriage in which companions trade equivalent principles. " The citizen trades his vote in exchange of money. The take action of accepting money denotes that there is an indirect arrangement between your giver and the device of the repayment.

The second kind of materials offer takes the form of gift ideas. A gift is something that is given out of free will without paying something in exchange. In the context of vote buying, taking a gift does not provide you with the responsibility and responsibility of voting the giver.

The last kind is in the form of wage. A wage is an amount of money paid in exchange of services rendered. Like products, it does not require any obligation to the candidate.


According to Schaffer (2002), there are three factors that impact the strategies of the individuals and the understanding of the voters toward vote buying. They are socioeconomic, institutional and politics factors. The first factor both affects the candidate's strategies and the voter's understanding while the last two factors impact mainly the strategies of the prospects.


One of the socioeconomic factors is the sociable class (Hicken, 2006). The formulation of the different strategies is inspired by public classes existing in population. The prospect must make a strategy that can produce strong and favorable impressions on people from different walks of life. It should focus on the needs of the whole high, middle and low category population. But it is impossible to create such strategies considering that there is a massive difference and conflicting interests present among these sociable classes. Different sociable classes connote different needs and prospects. A strategy that might work to the low category might be inadequate to the center and higher category or a technique which may be good to the bigger class might damage those belonging in the low class. Adding to the condition is the unequal variety of population owned by a certain sociable class. In the Philippines, the populace of the lower class is greater than the population of the center and higher course combined. The solution to these is to target the strategy to those who constitute the majority. The easiest and most effective strategy to garner votes is to choose the votes of these who are included in this majority (which is the lower class). It will be quite effective since those who belong in this class are financially unable who need money to preserve their everyday living. This circumstance is very prevalent in the Philippines because so many are participants of the low class. Almost all politicians who are running in office are concentrating their marketing campaign on the less fortunate because to them, greater amount of voters means more amount of votes plus more amount of votes means increased chances of being successful.

The second socioeconomic factor is education (Hicken, 2006) which influences the voter's view about vote buying. For the high plus some middle income voters, vote buying is a deviant and somehow an immoral habit. Those in the higher and middle income are strong attackers of the practice. They are really advocates of different anti-vote buying promotions and they're known for organizing actions that educate the people relating to this kind of advertising campaign strategies. They have this type of judgment because education demonstrates to them about these kinds of things. But for some middle class & most in the lower school (who cannot manage to have a higher education), they accepted vote buying because they understand it as the time when they can obtain "free" money that they can use to buy their needs.


Hicken (2006, p. 48), mentioned that "the guidelines and corporations under which prospects must operate can affect their incentives to purchase electoral support. " Different institutional factors may encourage or discourage the utilization of vote buying.

One institutional factor is the electoral system itself (Hicken, 2006). Under this factor is the area magnitude. It impacts the strategy of the applicant because large constituency means bigger amount of money needed to buy votes. Large area also has affect on the manner of distribution of the amount of money. The strategy could be more expensive and costly because the syndication of money will take much longer and there should be a rise in the number of employees to properly complete the strategy. As a result, candidates will decrease the money to be allocated to the people to be able to prioritize other advertising campaign strategies.


Political factors will vary conditions and circumstances in contemporary society that have an impact on the creation of various policies political selections.

One of the parameters under this factor is the election laws, specially the anti-vote buying laws (Hicken, 2006). The degree of execution of different anti-vote buying regulations affect how individuals device their strategy and circulation plans. In the Philippines, vote buying is against the law yet it proceeds to occur probably because of inefficiency of the laws and regulations and regulations enforcers and the light punishments which will be given to regulations breaker. There is no strict legislation of such laws in our country that is why the practice of vote buying is still a widespread function. Generally, regulations enforcers themselves are the protector of the scheme.


The very first thing that comes into our minds whenever we talk about vote buying is money. Money is the vital component of vote buying. It is the basis of any vote buying plan. We usually think that all vote buying money are coming from the pouches of the prospects since the majority of them are users of the top notch. But I feel that the applicants are smart enough never to use their own riches and think of other different ways of budget options.

Some candidates most likely get their vote buying budget using their own political celebrations. Others recognize donations from different business areas given the condition that if they get the elections, they will repay them by giving them economic benefits and administration protection. For example, the applicant accepted the donation from a engineering company. In case the candidate won the elections and plans to carry out road projects, she or he will need to make the business the builder of the said tasks.

Other candidates vacation resort in getting illegal funds. Prospects who seek re-election have the benefit as it pertains to money resources because they can easily touch pork barrel and other government funds. Some ask the assistance of drug syndicates, smugglers, kidnappers, gamblers and robbers to supply them with untraceable funds. It is true because we can discover that many offences and illegal acts are happening during the election season. In return, the candidates provide them with financial support and coverage.


A carefully devised plan of action is required to successfully carry out acts, especially if it is outlawed. Applicants and politicians are smart in strategizing the effective way to choose the votes of the people. Usually, they even work with experts and experts who are proficient in fields related to illegal plan scheming.

One specific technique to ensure that the amount of money given was translated into vote is exactly what Bionat (1998) called Lanzadera system. In this strategy, the watchers supply the voters an already completed ballot which will be fell by the voters in the ballot container. After falling the already completed ballot, the voter, then, takes with him or her the blank ballot and give it to the watcher. The watcher will complete that ballot and give it to the next paid voter. In this technique, the amount of money is given only if the voter comes back with a blank ballot.

I interviewed people from our barangay in Bulakan, Bulacan about the long-term vote buying in our place. That they had first hand experiences about how vote buying occurs in our town. Established from that interview, I could learn other strategies and series of actions about how the structure of vote buying happens.

According to them, vote buying is usually conducted a nighttime or two prior to the election day, usually around eight in the evening until midnight. Each politician has their own "leader" per community who's responsible for the identification of supporters and potential vote buying focuses on. They are also responsible in delivering the money to the home of the discovered voters, at times in the looks of paying the "watcher". The powerful vote buying is very obvious and common inside our place that the folks are the ones approaching and coating up before the politicians' head office to ask for the amount of money.

Another strategy done by the candidates is getting the trust of barangay representatives and other community market leaders. In this manner, the applicant can almost suppose his / her hold in the community. The local leaders, then, receive large amount of money in exchange of shopping for the votes of these constituencies on behalf of the politician or the applicant.

One more strategy that was pointed out by my neighbours is buying non-supporters. Applicants will offer you those non-supporters with huge amount money. If indeed they accept it, they'll not be permitted to come out of their homes on your day of the election. There will be a person who will serve as a watchman that will ensure that the voter will abide to the arrangement. Some politicians, in order to be extra sure, retain the services of a bus that will need all the paid non-supporters to an out-of-town trip on the election day.

Another strategy is the taking good thing about the politicians on our profound family and kinship ties. Some politicians use a member of family or an influential person in a clan to influence members of the family and close friends to accept the money and to vote for that politician.

Vote buying also happens through the election day itself as said by the interviewees. Buying might take the proper execution of 100 pesos attached to the sample ballot.

There are also ways in order to ensure that the paid voter will comply with the contract. Before giving the money, they must give proofs that they voted that candidate. Usually, they bring with them a carbon newspaper or they may be asked to take a picture of the ballot with a cellular phone camera. Others asked the voters to make an agreed mark (a specific fold for example) on the ballot to provide as identification throughout the keeping track of of the votes.


The primary reason politicians buy votes is the food cravings for power. Vote buying is a kind of desperation to remain in power. Many politicians struggle for the privilege of electricity because it indicates affect and control over other individuals. They see power as the simplest way to achieve fame and fortune. Candidates want to get the vote of the visitors to obtain domination on different general population organizations and mechanisms. They aren't afraid to spend a big amount of money because after they are elected in office; they can simply recover the money that was used to pay those individuals.


According to the April 2007 of the Friendly Weather Stop (SWS), one in two of the documented voters think that there is nothing at all bad in taking the amount of money offers from the individuals (refer to Physique 1). Others may well not see this from of money-giving as an attempt to buy their votes. They allow the money but it generally does not necessarily mean that they can vote for that candidate.

Another reason is the offer seems as an possibility to get the money, which was taken by the politicians, back again to the people. They could as well accept the offered money since it came from the fees of individuals.

The April 2007 SWS review also found that those in the rural areas were more possible in acknowledging money compared to those who stay in urban areas (refer to Desk 1). This demonstrates the primary reason for the offering of votes is poverty. Those who live in or below the poverty lines generally are unemployed individuals. They take the money because they needed it. For the poor, repayment for a vote can mean a week without cravings for food. They just recognize the offer because for them, dignity and satisfaction cannot create food and money.

Some may see elections as the only real chance to acquire something from the government. They may have this view that it is an obligation of your candidate to give money and other materials things to their supporters.

There are some reasons that people can consider negative in the part of the voters. People allow payments because they are being threatened. A lot of the times, materials offers are followed with terror, making them very difficult to refuse.

Figure 1. "Within an election, it isn't bad to simply accept money provided

one votes regarding to one's conscience. "

Source: http://www. sws. org. ph/pr070503. htm

Table 1. Rural areas approved agreeing to money in comparison to those in

the urban areas.

Source: http://www. sws. org. ph/pr070503. htm


For the past few years, many have attemptedto stop and eliminate the practice of vote buying in the Philippines. They even created different organizations that promote the values of an honest election. But do not require actually succeeded.

The efficiency of efforts is determined by how organizers or designers predicted the intensity of vote buying strategies as well as the many reasons why people recognize the offers.

A reform is designed to change the tendencies of the individuals and the voters. Reforms for givers usually take the form of strengthened laws. Example includes strengthened vote secrecy, tightened advertising campaign finance rules and many more that try to prevent anyone from buying votes. But these reforms led only to a limited success. Vote clients, instead of halting, have change themselves to the new environment. To escape punishments, they devised new ways on how to carry out vote buying like increasing the instances of indirect vote buying alternatively than direct vote buying. It became more uncontrollable even though new laws and regulations strained it to be more refined.

On the other palm, reform has always considered the form of voter education. Probably the most successful technique that was done to eliminate vote buying is the marketing campaign against vote buying through different open public service posters (see Illustration 1, Illustration 2 and Illustration 3). Successful in the sense it enables the population to gain information about the wrongness of vote buying. Nonetheless it did not really help in the removal of this unacceptable practice.

None of the makes an attempt to completely stop vote buying became successful. Legislations enforcers and reformists continue to devise stricter insurance policies and laws against vote buying even though none of these actually really worked well. Instead of wasting the time in just making stricter guidelines, they should think about concentrating their attention on real origins of this act. Government should focus their attention more on increasing financial development and education. By doing so, people won't have the reason to accept profit exchange of the votes.

At nowadays, I could say that reform is very impossible. Reform is only going to be possible once our politics and economical system become steady.

Illustration 2: 3M general population service advertisement, May 2001. blinded by money. Vote with your conscience. "

Source: Schaffer, 2005

Illustration 1: Namfrel Open public Service Advertising, May 2001. "Your vote is valuable, it generally does not have a price. Your identity is invaluable. So, in this election, don't sell your persona, don't sell you vote.

Source: Schaffer, 2005

Illustration 3: Red Horses Beer public service ad, May 2001. "A little pocket change won't put you forward. Don't require a bribe. Vote for a good prospect. "

Source: Schaffer, 2005


Vote buying is not just a recent development in Philippine elections. Its existence began with the arriving of overseas colonizers and persisted to flourish and evolve with the progress of new technology and the development of new ideas.

Pre-colonial elections in the Philippines did not have vote buying because the authority was assumed not through election but through succession. A similar thing will go probably with the elections during the early on Spanish period (17th to 18th century). I did not find any consideration stating that there is vote buying but I assume that there is none because there is no elections and the market leaders were only appointed by the Spaniards. In the overdue Spanish period (19th century), Spanish colonial control in the Philippines dropped as the Philippine trend started. The trend led to the development of a government proven by Aguinaldo. Under this federal, most officers were selected people from the principalia category and elections were only organised for higher positions. There was no large level elections throughout that time so vote buying had not been an option.

The coming of the American period started vote buying in the Philippines. The Americans offered all Filipinos the right to rule and the right to vote. Action No. 60, which became the organic law for many municipal governments, began the elite rule in the Philippines (Tangcangco, 1988). The Act provided a need that only allowed the elites to vote and take part in elections. The elites became powerful and they may have realized the benefit that the position can provide them. They truly became accustomed to the energy that was once denied by the Spaniards. From then on, in order to support this electricity, they do whatever means and costs to be elected in office.

Here are a few of the documented cases of vote buying from the American period before present period.

In the 1929 Elections (during the American period), money was very essential in the campaign period. Money was used to pay-off competitors to withdraw their candidacy, to choose the votes of individuals, to threaten folks, also to bribe campaign market leaders of the rival prospect. (Banlaoi & Carlos, 1996).

In 1940 Local elections (Commonwealth period), Money was again a very important tool. Specific example because of this one is the case of Pedro Abad Santos of the Socialist Party. He was expected as the champion of the gubernatorial competition in the province of Pampanga because of his massive popularity to his constituents but his wealthy opponent earned the election by almost 7000 votes. There was no evidence of the strategies his opponent had used however the Abad Santos' camp really was sure his challenger used his money to choose the votes of individuals. Another example was the electoral protest of Dr. Hilario Moncado against Tomas Cabili. They were fighting with each other for a congressional seats in Lanoa province. Moncado accused Cabili of unlawful marketing campaign by guaranteeing free legal services and work for many who will vote for him. (Banlaoi & Carlos, 1996)

In the 1949 National Elections (through the post-independence period), all kinds of fraud and manipulation were reportedly done by Leader Elpidio Quirino to ensure his position as leader. Quirino and his other applicants used considerable and whole-sale vote-buying in varieties of money, careers and pork barrel. It had been reported that Quirino possessed used almost four million pesos during his election advertising campaign. The three provinces where in fact the massive vote buying occurred include Negros Occidental, Nueva Ecija and Lanao. (Banlaoi & Carlos, 1996)

The 1969 Presidential and Congressional Elections was between your Nacionalista Get together and the Liberal Get together. This was regarded as the "bloodiest and dirtiest election" (Banlaoi & Carlos, 1996, p. 111) before the Martial legislation period. Both parties reportedly used different ways to ensure their triumph. These included cheating, ballot stuffing and considerable vote buying. It was stated in the studies that the Nacionalista Get together and the Liberal Get together spent around 700 million pesos and 300 million pesos respectively. That money originated from the pork-barrel cash and was used as press fees and in buying votes. (Banlaoi & Carlos, 1996).

During the Martial laws period, all types of inexpensive fraud were committed including vote buying. To be able to capture the commitment of the rural people, Marcos in person allocated 4000 pesos to every barrio captain during his plan. The barrio captains were tasked to divide the money on the list of inhabitants of the barrio. (Abueva, 1970).

In the 1992 elections, there is analysis on media advertising so the individuals had more money to spend on the campaigns. Feliciano Belmonte, Quezon City congressional applicant at that time, was reported to possess given cash and free tickets to Hongkong during his marketing campaign. (Bionat, 1998)

The media advertising campaign was also forbidden in the 1995 elections. Regarding to Bionat (1998), mayors in Cebu received a bonus of 50, 000 to 100, 000 pesos for campaigning the 12 senatorial wagers of the administration. Like what Marcos does, candidates also bought the votes of the grassroots leader. The difference is that the value of their support was more expensive. Barangay captains accepted at the least 500 pesos and a maximum of 20, 000 pesos from the prospects. (Bionat, 1998)

In the 2004 Presidential elections, Arroyo committed almost all types of fraud according to Tuazon (2006). One of these is the Oplan Mercury that was revealed by Rudy Galang (one of the brains of this idea). The goals of the plan are to use open public money to the campaign, to provide money to local officials and to buy the support of these in the opposition. (Tuazon, 2006).

Elections in the Philippines from pre-colonial time to the present show how exactly we incorporate influences of colonial guideline into our political system. The nice and bad ramifications of these interventions became area of the changes in Philippine elections. History explains to us that the facial skin of Philippine elections has never really changed. We still continue to perform the routines of days gone by. The difference now could be which it just assumes new form and form.


In an unhealthy country like ours, it is impossible to truly have a power because our politicians know our vulnerability to pressure and our hardships in life. Majority of our electorate are poor and also have no means of livelihood, no education to returning them up and they just resign themselves to taking alms and alleviation. The poorer the united states the more frequent vote buying is. They take good thing about our weaknesses but we cannot blame those who sell their votes. Filipinos' heads are set for any answers that are immediate. That is why even though the work is against the law and unlawful, like advertising votes, they instantly resort to it to easily think of a solution to their problem, like poverty. Folks are quite fixated on short-term solutions rather than long term ones. A 500 peso bill can purchase you, suppose, a two days and nights decent meals, but it cannot assure you economic stability in the foreseeable future.

For me, vote buying can be associated with surrendering one's right to vote and offering one's principle. I'll not at all sell my vote. Vote buying is dependant on morality. Money is good by itself but the work is evil since it violates my independence, my dignity and my right as an individual.

Vote buying is not a indigenous Filipino idea. It was only a reflection of your colonial experience. But this experience express in us which it became a constant situation in elections. Background has an indirect influence on the beginning of vote buying in the Philippines. The desire for self-rule that was forbidden to the Filipinos for almost 300 years was all of a sudden bestowed to us that it could have created the idea of doing whatever it takes (may it be good or bad) to protect and uphold this right.

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