Vote buying was more rampant and large-scale in this year's elections compared to past polls, a Church-based poll watchdog alleged on Tuesday.
Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chairperson Henrietta de Villa said vote buying this year “was bolder and on a bigger scale.”
“They did everything just to entice people to vote for them,” she said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news site.
Citing reports reaching her, she said the vote buying took the forms of money, rice, food packs, mobile phones and even education scholarships.
However, she said no one is arrested due to the need for material evidence to make the charges stick.
“In all areas, the public knows the candidates who engaged in vote buying but no one gets arrested because there’s a need for material evidence,” she said.
De Villa lamented poverty especially in the countryside may be to blame for the "culture of money politics" as people are forced to engage in it even if they "know that it’s wrong.”
“Because of poverty, they are forced to buy the bullet,” she said.
Still for automated polls
Despite the glitches that marred several Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in this year's election, the PPCRV said the next elections in 2016 should still be fully automated.
The PPCRV said the automated system has been generally faster and not as prone to fraud as the manual system.
“At this point I would never recommend manual (election) because we have not yet reached that political maturity,” PPCRV chairperson Henrietta de Villa said in an article posted on the CBCP news site Tuesday night.
Besides, she said Filipinos have yet to explore the potential of an automated election system - or reach the point that they trust the system enough to no longer need poll watchers.
In the United States, she noted people have politically matured to the point they no longer need a poll watchdog.
Yet in the Philippines, she said mudslinging, vote-buying and vote-selling are still continuing.
On the other hand, she said the automated system at present involves a transmission of results that is so fast "there is not enough space for manipulation.”
But de Villa admitted this year’s election was more stressful since they had to "outdo the performance of 2010 (elections).”
“I think the stress also came from the stone throwing against the system, the poll body and the PPCRV,” she said. - VVP, GMA News