A week ago I asked a friend of mine who he was voting for. Sadly enough, he answered "Whoever gives me the most money.”As a person who is not given the privilege to vote yet as I am only seventeen, I was dismayed by his answer. I was rather insulted as a matter in fact with the thought that our right and privilege to vote has been overpowered by the thought of money. Since I was a kid I was already aware of vote buying all over the town. And to this day, politicians still continue to buy the votes of the people because they patronize it.
Yes, I dare say it. It is not the fault of the politicians, but it is the fault of the people. It is clear to the masses that if a politician gives a little something on the side, he/she usually ends up winning. And so this method, although illegal, has been used every darn time an election is coming up. And like moths to the flame, the voters are bought. I see this as prostituting a freedom to vote. You get paid to willingly give your only chance to change the way of the country to someone who’d try to win the money back when he gets the position. And this is where the corruption starts; but that’s another story.
The right to vote is given at the early age of sixteen with the Sangguniang Kabataan Elections. Young leaders are cajoled to run for positions to be the voice of the youth in every town. But even what should be an innocent and clean election has also been tainted with the stench of vote buying. I had a schoolmate who ran for the SK Elections a few years back. She told me that she was a sure win when suddenly her opponent began to not so secretly giving “favours” to the voters. Against her will, she gave in to the tactic of her opponent and “bought” the people. Although in the end she won, she felt guilty for what she did. This example shows that money really does push people into doing the most grievous of acts.
Another example of vote buying among adolescents is taking the voters to a “resort” or some place that they could stay for a few days before the elections. They are pampered by the running politicians with food and accommodation. They are kept in that place for a few days and are “freed” on Election Day. This tactic is used in a lot of small towns, and has been effective because the ones who were “captured” will feel a sense of wanting to pay back what has been given to them, thus, prostituting their vote.
So at the young age of sixteen, the minds of the country’s future are polluted with the thought that money can buy everything. And when they reach eighteen and they can vote for senatorial and presidential elections, they are stuck with the same mentality, thus the success of the cycle that normally those who buy votes are the ones who lead the country to misery.
You may be thinking that you can easily just take the money but voting for another candidate. Sadly this is not the case, for there are “guards”. These are people who are paid to make sure the people who they gave money to would vote for their candidate. A lot of people are threatened if they do not vote for a certain candidate. In far flung areas, some candidates show guns and other weapons to put a scare into the people. The other day I texted my friend who was from a province, and she told me the most horrible things. The candidates really threaten to take their houses or their farm if the people did not vote for them. This is a scary thought that people should know about, because it is happening in reality.
Although it may seem too late for our country, it’s not. We can still do something in order to give back the freedom to choose who to vote without the thought of money. As citizens, we must learn to refuse the smell of money because as easy as the money comes, the easier you lose it. It’s better to have hard earned money than prostituting your freedom to change the political system of your country. Even a seventeen year old girl sees this clearly. Why can’t you?