Peddling Rights

Posted on May 16, 2007

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[This blog has a new domain: http://philippineaffairs.com/]

Although I was not able to exercise my right to suffrage last May 14 Elections, it did not mean that I was apathethic and totally cynical about the elections. I really wanted to vote but circumstances prevented me from doing so. My wife insisted that I should not pursue going home because we barely had money for food and pay day is still a day ahead. I haven’t had enough money for a two-way fair from Legazpi City to Naga City and back. However, people here in Legazpi were more fortunate. Election money was flooding the streets and entering the households. My landlady even boasted of receiving a total of Php1,600, which she proptly spent shopping for grocerry items. The election money was primarily the reason why the malls were jammed pack that day. I was half-wishing that I was a registered voter here in Legazpi. I would have had enough money to go shopping with my wife.

Most people here in Legazpi and elsewhere in the Phillipines were celebrating, as if the election was a national feast day. Although vote-buying is illegal, voters welcomed it like manna from heaven. Most voters reasoned that it was perfectly okay to receive money as long as they still vote for the candidates they like. It is really hard to refuse money especially when you badly need it. Almost all candidates were giving away fortunes but not for purely philanthropic purposes. It was a choice between accepting the money or refusing it. At its surface, it seems that it is complete foolishness to spend millions of pesos for a job that only pays hundred thousands of pesos a year! Where do all these candidates getting the money they were spending? In reality, Philippine elections are high-stake investments for most politicians.

People are complaining of very expensive medicines. People are complaining about unpaved roads. Many Filipinos are homeless and living under sub-human conditions, scavenging food from the garbage. Many are unemployed. Others who are lucky enough to have jobs are underpaid; they have the dignity just a bit higher than slaves. Filipinos are complaining about “ghost projects”, “ghost employees” and useless economic statistics. Filipinos are complaining about inefficient bureaucracy and corrupt leaders. But do Filipinos really have the right to complain?

People only have the right to something if they still own it. How can we still have the right if we already have sold it?

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