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MANILA, Philippines – Vote buying is no longer just done in retail, according to the watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). It is now done wholesale, with politicians buying the votes of entire barangays.
PPCRV national chairperson Henrietta de Villa said the PPCRV faces a great challenge in combating the culture of vote buying and vote selling, citing that the nationwide problem had leveled up to votes being bought for P30,000 to P50,000 per barangay.
Given the enormity of the problem, PPCRV, on its 24th anniversary on Monday, October 26, signed with media organizations – Rappler among them – a memorandum of commitment (MOC) to work against vote buying and vote selling in the 2016 elections through voter’s education.
De Villa said vote buyers are already moving now, but they are difficult to capture as the actual masterminds are difficult to catch.
She said the communities themselves will know who are trying to buy their votes. The The objective of the PPCRV network is to educate the communities so that won’t be willing to engage in selling their votes.
“Change will not happen if change does not happen below [at the grassroots level],” De Villa said.
The PPCRV also committed to advocate:
- against election-related violence
- against apathy and unconcern for the common good
- for principled and informed selection of candidates
- for clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and elections
The pledge comes less than a year before the polls, where over 18,000 elective positions are at stake.
As part of its efforts, the PPCRV released “One Good Vote,” a mobile app for iOS and Android systems in August this year. The app is a voter’s education resource containing a manual on how to conduct voter education training seminars. The modules cover topics such as threats to Philippine elections and proper criteria for selecting leaders.
PPCRV project director Clifford Sorita announced during the event that the next version of the app will be released sometime in November.
De Villa hopes their efforts will curb what she called a “misplaced sense of honor,” where voters feel indebted to candidates who give them money. “Once you accept that money, you are part of the conspiracy,’” she said.
Rappler – represented by Research and Content Strategy head Gemma Bagayaua Mendoza and Move.PH’s executive director Rupert Ambil II – is one of the PPCRV partners.
Representatives of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, GMA, ABS-CBN, TV5, CNN Philippines, the Catholic Media Network, Radio Veritas, Communication Foundation for Asia, and the Philippine Broadcasting Service also signed the commitment.
Telecommunications company Smart Communications (Smart), through its value prepaid brand Talk N Text (TNT), is also a signatory. According to a Smart press release, TNT agreed to provide “especially designed SIM cards that will supplement their communications capabilities.”
Smart will also collaborate with the PPCRV in co-marketing initiatives and “empower PPCRV volunteers to harness the power of social media and other digital technologies.”
Relationship with other poll watchdogs
Established in 1991, the PPCRV is a citizens’ arm of the COMELEC for the 2016 elections. The PPCRV had also served as an accredited citizens’ arm in 2013, together with the National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) and One Vote, a coalition of religious groups.
In the 2010 polls, PPCRV was accredited while NAMFREL was not. The poll body cited, among other things, the duplication of election monitoring that the PPCRV was already expected to do. Namfrel filed an appeal but later conceded.
That same year, the PPCRV drew controversy for accepting foreign donations.