According to President Rodrigo Duterte, vote buying is an “integral” part of elections in the Philippines, with the practice being fairly normal among Filipinos.
He made the statement on Monday, May 13, after casting his vote in his hometown of Davao City.
“Well, ganito iyan (it’s like this), if they are caught, they should be prosecuted to the full length of the law. Now, the practice of buying votes has been an integral part of an election in the Philippines,” he said.
“‘Yang pagboto, lahat yan. Walang hindi nagbibili ng boto dito, maniwala ka… Ituro mo kung sino ang hindi nagbili ng boto (Everybody is guilty of vote buying here. Believe me. Tell me who here never bought votes),” he added.
Under the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, vote buying is defined as:
“Any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”
At least 147 people — including Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo, Duterte’s candidate for Quezon City mayor, and several alleged supporters of incumbent Mayor Abigail “Abby” Binay — were arrested for buying and selling votes ahead of Monday’s midterm elections.
However, Duterte stated that giving money does not automatically mean that one is vote buying.
“You know when you start to give money, as I told Comelec (Commission on Elections), that’s not because I’m buying the vote of the fellow. It’s because I’m giving him money to go to the precinct, cast his vote, and go home. Not all people have money. Or you send food to your leaders who are here sacrificing and waiting for the food to eat so they can last until the last vote is counted,” he explained.
The president also said that vote buying will persist as long as Filipinos are poor.
“It can take many forms… for as long as the Philippines remains to be a poor country, for as long as the feudal system exists lalo na sa (especially in) rural areas aggravated by the communists… We are becoming poorer and poorer,” he noted.
Filipinos on Monday voted for the 12 members of the 24-seat Senate, the entire House of Representatives, the country’s governors and vice governors, provincial board members, mayors and vice mayors, and councilors.