Votes for sale

Katherine Visconti

MANILA, Philippines – Just how much do residents of vote-rich Quezon City value their votes?

With more than 1 million eligible voters, the city is an attractive prize for politicians, since a few thousand votes can spell the difference between victory and defeat. In fact, a slim margin of 727,084 votes made all the difference in who was named Vice President in 2010. 

So we asked some residents just how much they would sell their votes for. Watch what they said below: 

Many were shy to admit that they would accept the money if it’s more than their average daily wage.

The answers are vexing since Quezon City is not one of the poorest cities in the country. In fact, it is part of the National Capital Region’s 2nd District, which had the lowest poverty incidence in the country according to a 2000 report by the National Statistical Coordination Board.

But vote-rich areas are up for grabs. And voters, as well as politicians, know it.

Quezon City received the second highest share of pork barrel funds – or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – from senators between June 30, 2010 and June 30, 2012. During the same period, the poorest provinces in the country were largely ignored, receiving hardly any of the discretionary spending, as documented in this indepth report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

It’s a fact that politicians pour money into campaigns to influence voters. The recent election in the U.S. cost a staggering USD$6 billion, but candidates funneled money into ads that promoted their platform.

In the Philippines, however, the problem with outright vote-buying is that politicians are not forced to discuss their ideas. In the end, the country may not get the best candidate, but instead the one with the deepest pockets. –

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