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Concerned groups launch anti-vote buying campaign

Several concerned groups on Wednesday launched a campaign that seeks to raise awareness and prevent vote-buying in the upcoming 2013 elections. During the launch at the Club Filipino in San Juan City, good governance group Kaya Natin!, the Ateneo School of Government, and the Transparency and Accountability Network unveiled their campaign called “Make It Count: Dahil Walang Katumbas na Pera ang Boto Mo”. According to Harvey Keh of Kaya Natin!, large amounts of money change hands in this subversion of the electoral process. Individuals are paid up to P2,000 while families are paid up to P10,000 for their vote. Additionally, if several candidates try to buy an individual's vote, that individual can be paid as much as P5,000 in total. An anti-vote buying covenant was also launched during the event. All candidates are invited to sign the covenant and make public their support for clean and honest elections. Some local government candidates were in attendance, and these candidates from Rizal, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and the National Capital Region willingly signed onto the covenant. The organizers are inviting more candidates to take part in the agreement. Wendell Balderas of Kaya Natin! said the campaign will also make use of technology and social media to raise awareness regarding the movement; the campaign has a Facebook page and an email address ( Citizens may also use them to report incidents of vote buying. Concerned Filipinos should make use of their smartphones and cameras so their reports can be backed up with photographic or video evidence.   These reports of vote buying and vote selling will be verified by the concerned organizations, after which they will be passed onto the Commission on Elections for appropriate action and, if possible, prosecution of the offenders. However, Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr., who was also at the campaign launch, noted that completely eliminating vote buying is next to impossible as the practice has “always been a tradition in this country.” “What we have to do is really be practical and minimize it,” Brillantes added. Brillantes said the Comelec has been devising a plan to combat vote-buying, but declined to give further details on the matter to preserve its effectiveness. Nevertheless, Brillantes vowed that the Comelec would give its utmost support to the anti-vote buying campaign. — DVM, GMA News