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PIA Press Release
2007/04/10

Commentary: If Ninoy were alive...

By Bong Pedalino

Tacloban City (10 April) -- He would have disallowed his picture to be printed in the P500 peso bill, with a matching mysterious “hinampiling” look that invites as much attention as interpretation.

But that is not really the sad part. The P500 bill has become the standard by which voters’ prices have been based during elections Philippine version. This is the saddest and the worst thing that happened behind the circulation of the 500 money. And we are not talking here about the fake ones.

Ninoy must have been turning in his grave, fuming mad and gnashing angry as he can be. Who would have thought his immortal words “The Filipino is worth dying for” being paraphrased into “The Filipino is worth buying for” -- and using the denomination bearing his image at that? This is not only adding insult to injury, this is adding a heap of injuries to a bowlful of insults.

Look, we are not stupid to deny present realities. Candidates -- ALL candidates -- are giving money anyway like there’s no tomorrow. If one is hypocrite enough not to accept his/her share from both camps (the billing is said to be starting at P500 per voter, then P1,000 the other side responds, then P1,500 the first group counters, and so on) the money goes to the leader, or to the one who distributes it. So receiving the “election fund” was just a matter of a lesser evil, for somehow it cannot affect “whom I vote for,” right?

Wrong -- on three counts. At the very start the money was given with a clear motive: to buy your vote so your decision can swing their way. If such was the case then we no longer need elections -- we need “voting auction”, where the highest bidder, the highest giver can be the winner-take-all.

Second: Is that how cheap your right of suffrage has been so lowly downgraded? Then you are a traitor to yourself, irresponsible to the highest order.

Third: you desecrated the photograph of Ninoy. If Ninoy were alive he would have cursed the “trapos” giving money and the willing “selling” recipients. We should be ashamed for that.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has been trying to prevent any vote buying scheme from happening. This, of course, is like hoping against hope, a challenge accomplished only in lip-service than in deed. Yet it stands to reason that at least the PPCRV has managed in all these years to raise the awareness level of voters. While the “hinampiling” remains the primary criteria, some votes have been considering the issues, the platforms involved.

More to the point, many voters believed that candidates must pass the critical 3 C’s: competence, character, and commitment, although quite a number would not do away with the forth c – cash. Still, it is not an exaggeration to say that Ninoy’s “impossible dream” for an informed voter can be realized one day into the near or far future.

Ninoy valued his life to the point of dying for it. In like manner, conscientious voters should value their votes to the point of rejecting cash, and dying to say NO everytime money is offered or given. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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