MOST ELECTIVE LOCAL POSITIONS Have been decided and the winners duly proclaimed in the country.
In Bohol, Deputy Speaker and 3rd District Rep. Arthur Yap was proclaimed the winner in a scintillating fight to the finish gubernatorial fight with former Cabsec Leoncio Jun Evasco with a thinnest of margins of slightly over 2,000 votes.
Based on the voter turnout of 82%, this margin is only about a quarter of one percent margin indicating how closely fought the race was. Evasco is not, however, throwing in the towel and “will fight to the finish” and likely file a “failure of election” complaint with the Commission on Elections.
While we cannot comment on the merits of the petition, we know that it is within the constitutional right of Evasco to do so.
Yap won in the towns of Anda, Antequera, Balilihan, Batuan, Bilar, Calape, Candijay, Carmen. Cortes, Danao, Dauis, Pilar, Sevilla, Valencia, Dimiao, Duero, G. Hernandez, Guindulman, Jagna, Jetafe, Lila. Loay, Loboc, Loon, Mabini, CPG, Sikatuna, Tubigon and the City of Tagbilaran for a total of 326,895 votes.
On the other hand, Evasco won in the towns of Alburquerque, Alicia, Antequera, Baclayon, Bien Unido, Buenavista, Catigbian, Clarin, Dagohoy, Inabanga, Maribojoc, Sagbayan, Panglao, San Isidro, San Miguel, Sierra Bullones, Talibon, Trinidad and Ubay for a summation of 324,734votes.
If Yap eventually prevails, he has a gigantic task ahead of him -in terms of healing the wounds of the highly personal battle engendered by the embers of a partisan war since almost half of the electorate- whether due to his platform or personality- did not vote for him. It is important for a governor not only to rule but also to govern. He needs the cooperation of all.
Every Boholano OFW and Boholano at heart know that Bohol had leaped from being one of the poorest 20 provinces in the Philippines with 50% of its people under the poverty line to 26% in the first half of 2018 and moving towards the national average of 21%.
It would be dishonest to say that Bohol based on infrastructure, investments in tourism, agribusiness and the per capita income of the average Boholano – has not risen up in dramatic proportion.
Our mainstream mass media platforms – in both radio and newspaper- as much as possible had tried to step in cadence with developmental economics and had supported good socio-economic initiatives from whoever the incumbent provincial and city executives were. It would have been obstructionist on our part to keep on harping on the negatives while the ship of the province sails into perilous waters towards the beloved shore.
Sometimes, this stance has been mistaken by others as having a bias for the incumbents. In truth, it was really biased for Bohol’s total development.
But if one looks hard enough, we also had at times taken incumbent officials to task when they went out of line or their policies which were either doubtful or needed improvements.
As we, The Bohol Chronicle celebrated its 65th year of dedicated public service last Thursday without fanfare, drums, and cymbals, we also quietly renewed our commitment to retaining our stripes as part of the Fourth Estate.
While we will uphold the tenets of developmental economics, we will not also hesitate to point out wayward policies and any hint of impropriety in governance- including friend and foe- in behalf of the greater good for the greatest number.
We enjoin everyone to participate with us in this task of nation-building. Bring your good recommendations to the government- as it has no monopoly of genius – and at the same time, sharpen one’s eyes for anything that borders on graft and corruption that would prejudice the people’s welfare.
We enjoin especially the patriotic Civil Society and the Catholic Church to provide the battering ram with us that would straighten out the excesses of power, wealth and influence in this community. They should play as the Great Equalizers and prove that true power resides in the People.
Our country is in the cusp of tremendous economic growth in Asia and is a leader of the Gross National Product statistics among the ASEAN nations. Let us not put that to waste.
Quite apart from the economic numbers, let us prove ourselves as a proud Malay people destined for greatness and masters of our fate. And that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. And that we shall prevail. Shalom!
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WHAT THE MAY ELECTIONS SAY ABOUT US
REGARDLESS OF WHAT POLITICIANS SAY, Bohol remained one of the most expensive provinces to get elected to as public officials-up to this day and age. The 2019 Mid-Term May polls merely confirmed this bad reputation.
We heard it straight from group leaders bragging about how they won the polls through money politics, losers who graphically counted the pesos difference in the war chests, sellers of votes who were proud how much they made from a one-day election that happens every three years. And from losing vote sellers who lamented how much less they received compared with others. It is too pervasive to ignore as just fiction.
Let’s admit it, corruption through vote-buying has been institutionalized. And it is not just one party guilty of the illegal activity. Seeing the corrosion of values and good governance due to vote buying and selling, the Catholic Church earlier initiated a Covenant against this malodorous social cancer- to little avail.
Tagbilaran Bishop Abet Uy told the Chronicle- his face apparently frustrated- that we should all try to rise above the May drawback- and instead make a positive move of voter empowerment by an intensive re-education of voters about the true morality of elections. But it will be a tall task to do for the next three years till the next elections come to the fore. But this has to be done.
When even one vote for a town mayoralty candidate can be purchased at P5,000 – let us not deny that millions flooded Bohol during the May 13 mid-term polls.
There were those who bought votes directly to get the ticket to a position that can many times lead the occupant to power, fame, and fortune.
There were those who bought votes even though their winning was secured, to firm up their bargaining position when the next polls arrive. There were those who bought votes because they had no choice but somehow try to match and hopefully slow down the effects of the avalanche of moolah from the opposing camp. Almost everyone did buy votes, whether one admits it or not.
Months before elections, barangay leaders had already identified those people who are vulnerable to vote-buying or the undecided who can be influenced by the smell of money. Then they execute their buying expedition.
The usual target in their vulnerability is the poor and the slightly educated upon whose powerlessness, evil forces pounce upon and draw their pound of flesh. It is, therefore, truly important that we bring down the incidence of poverty of this country to the lowest possible level.
For it is only when our social strata are dominated by the affluent and Middle Class that the power of money over collective consciences begin to diminish. It is only at this point that candidates who have no or little money and do not belong to entrenched political dynasties have a fair chance of getting elected in this country.
Everyone and his brother know that vote buying and selling is illegal. That is why it is difficult to prove such in a court of law without admitting one has been a party to a crime. That is why this illegality remains a fact of election life.
The case in point is Quezon City mayoralty candidate Bingbong Crisologo who was arrested for alleged vote-buying. Released after being held by authorities, political pundits theorized that arresting Bingbong was used as a sample so that his followers similarly disposed to alleged “vote buying” will cease doing so or would not carry out their plans. Of course, he lost.
The fact that we hear very few going Bingbong’s way all over the archipelago goes to show that vote-buying, indeed, is as old as the Spanish rule.
We all know the evil of vote-buying and selling. And that there is an enormous price to pay for this wayward transaction. Because election money can come from various sources.
If the bribes came from family money- that has to be recouped- because we still have to hear of politicians who are philanthropists and give away money for free with no strings attached, according to a Philippine study.
They can come from businessmen who will try to curry favors and undue protection from a government that will make the playing field uneven. If coming from contractors and suppliers, expect the scale to be tilt in their favor in the bidding process for government contracts in the future if it was not already done in the past.
Worst, if they come from criminals and thugs, they could be given protection and their trade allowed to thrive to the detriment of the society at large.
Philippine society will become worse because of them.
In the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures required for submission by the Comelec on June 12 for both winning and losing protagonists what cannot be possibly included are those used for vote-buying as it is illegal and cannot include everything that was spent, otherwise, the ceiling limit on expenditures based on the number of voters of their constituency will be exceeded. What is the compelling reason why politicians overspend just to get themselves elected?
One other what that people can perhaps help in making politicians less enthused to make hay while in office is if they do away with the two-way relationship expressed in the so-called KBL System. People should stop pestering their politicians from spending for their every K (Kasal, B (Binyag) and L (Libing) because the latter will have to draw them from financial sources that may not always in consonance to the common good.
We are sure all the politicians themselves also want to break out of this cycle of patronage politics engendered by vote buying and selling during polls. It is very tiring and expensive for them to continue preserving this bad institutional arrangement that has existed for years. And still, have the enormous task of governing over or legislating for their constituency.
Led by the vibrant Catholic Church, we hope all can join hands in eradicating this age-old practice of money politics during election once and for all.
Let us try our darndest best in the next three years – with “Voters’ Education” as Bishop Uy calls it-and with God’s help- let us see how far we can go. Shalom!
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