Vote-buying can be eradicated, if the voters and the candidates could be convinced that vote-buying could be the source of corruption in governance as all spent to buy votes has to be recouped.ROI (Return On Investment), remember?
In Barangay Manga, Tagbilaran City, the Chronicle confirmed that not a single peso was spent to buy votes by any of the 38 candidates for both the Barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan elections last Monday. Alleluia!
The process was well done as the candidates themselves were asked how they wanted the Church to help them. In a series of meetings from Sept. 22 to Oct 29, parish priest, Fr. Geardo “Jimboy” Saco, Jr., painstakingly talked with the candidates and consulted them in not just one meeting on whether they really want to stop vote buying as the people exercise their right of suffrage. The sacredness of the ballot was well explained during dialogues with both the candidates and the electorates.
All that one extra mile made it all happen.
The parish priest did not give up after some meetings had shown that some of the bets especially for barangay captains seemed inclined to boycott the meetings. Through the kagawads who were more hell-bent on stopping vote buying, the appeal reached their barangay captain-bets who were later convinced to go back to the series of meetings.
The effort was not a walk in the park for the people, especially the parish priest, who joined many forces to map out their tangible moves to deliver the message to stop vote buying., So all agreed to watch each others’ camp and report to the parish priest any move noticed to buy votes until the wee hours on election day.
It was agreed by all the candidates that any sample ballot found with stapled money would be refunded by the Church while the seized sample ballots would be displayed near the altar so people could see who the violators of the “No to Vote Buying” agreement. The church printed the agreement in bond papers together with the list of candidates for them to choose from before entering the voting precincts.
Up to 3 o’clock dawn, the church had to call certain candidates if reports were true that they started to buy votes among the electorates. On the day before the election, the parish priest’s voice beamed through a mobile “barker” reminding all the electorates and candidates of their commitment not to sell and not to buy votes.
In a down-to-earth message heard on the recoreda, the church leader was heard telling the electorates not to vote for those who will be buying their votes as they are “demonyo ug mga bakakon” (demons and liars) after all have been said in their agreement.
Because of the massive campaign to stop the flow of blood money to buy votes, some 30% of the electorates, or some 2,000 of them did not show up at the voting precincts. But by that singular act, they also unwittingly exposed whether they took the Gospel of their religion seriously.
This can only prove that we can stop vote buying though not all will be happy to part ways with the usual “ina-ngayan” which comes in a few pesos during election time.
The 58-year-old shepherd of the flock, Fr Jimboy, should be asked to spread to other parishes the way to this campaign which we all thought could never be possible.
This comes as a sequel to what the Jagna mayor, Joseph Rañola did in his 33 barangays where he likewise stood pat on the war against vote buying. His best effort reached as far as telling even the higher politicians in his district not to attempt giving money to their supported bets as his task force would really seize their money.- because that is illegal money designed for confiscation.
At the end of last Monday’s election, some 80% of Jagna’s barangays did experience for the first time a no-vote buying election.
So hope is not lost, brethren, even if you are just one voice speaking in the darkness. Pretty soon, others will hear your patient clarion call for righteousness and become ashamed of themselves soon and follow the Right Path, eventually. In God’s own Chosen Time.
Kudos Mayor Joseph. And, you’re one helluva priest, Fr. Jimboy (pardon our French).
GARCIA WAS A SPECIAL MAN
“SURSUM CORDA” -lift up your hearts- were the last words of Bohol’s Most Illustrious Son Carlos P . Garcia in his last-ever speech as president of the Philippine Constitutional Convention in 1971.
It was a prayer of hope- a preface of a Christian prayer said as early as the Third Century – which Garcia used to beckon his beloved countrymen to unite for progress.
Garcia of Talibon has the singular distinction of being the only Filipino to ever be a president of the Republic (4th) and the Constitutional Convention. No other such Filipino.
There were talks that agents knocked at his residence one night offering him the Concon presidency if Garcia would favor the shift to a Parliamentary government -and apparently perpetuate President Ferdinand Marcos in power as no president is allowed reelection (after two terms) under the presidential system.
Garcia, instead, showed his uninvited visitors to the door and politely told them to go to hell. He won on his own merit, beating Diosdado Macapagal – his tormentor in the 1961 presidential elections.
As a youngster, Garcia walked barefoot in his elementary days in sitio Luy-a in a barangay in Talibon to go to school where many youngsters today would rather play video games and sniff rugby.
He was a three-time Bohol congressman (third district), three-term governor and senator from 1945 to 1953- where he was elected majority floor leader for his sheer brilliance and oratory. Contrast this with the modern-day Senate peopled by some plunderers, jesters and entertainers -some obsessed with grandstanding or playing with their mustache.
As Vice President, he was the Foreign Affairs Secretary who headed the group that eventually created the SEATO (Southeast Asian Nations).
As president, he was Mr. “Filipino First” advocate who told a joint congress regarding his advocacy: “We are called on this momentous debate whether this land of ours will remain the cradle and the grave, the womb and the tomb of our race- the only place we can build our homes, our temples and our altars and where we construct the castles of our racial hopes, dreams, and traditions and where we establish the warehouse of our happiness and prosperity, of our joys and sorrows.”
He had a price on his head for fighting foreign invaders the Japanese in World War II where other leaders after him would rather kowtow to become virtual vassals of another state.
Barring none, except for President Marcos Sr.- no one could match Garcia ( as president) in the forceful clarity and choice of words in delivering public speeches. Some present-day politicians -even the highest levels in the Senate- could hardly construct a sentence much less fully grasp the Constitution, in contrast.
Imagine his 7-point program under Garcia’s Austerity Program: he wanted reduction in rice imports and intensification of food production. Today, RP is the world’s biggest importer of rice, and food inflation is among the highest in the ASEAN. What happened Mr. Juan de la Cruz?
In 1960 he asked the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations to set up the IRRI ( International Rice Research Institute) in Los Banos Laguna where we taught the Thailanders and Vietnamese how to plant rice. Sadly, we now buy substantial rice from them today.
King Caloy was many things to many people- scholar, teacher,poet, orator, lawyer, sportsman and political economist.
Yet, the final feather on his glorious cap as he bowed out of public service was his being unstained with any taint of corruption. He lived and died a relatively poor man- not one peso richer than when he first entered Malacanang.
His heart must bleed now- watching how our country has now become, instead, the citadel of corruption- one of the worst in the world, Just look around you, friends.
After our usual family rosary prayers years ago sometime in 1961, our old man Jun Dejaresco stood up after the prayers with a long, sad face- saying “It’s over. Garcia has lost”.
It was this same sad face that Dejaresco announced over the old dyRD in the morning on June 14, 1971, that Garcia, the Concon president had joined His Creator.
King Caloy had gifted him a colorful batik-colored shirt which was Dejaresco’s favorite to wear for many years. It was Garcia who encouraged him to open station dyRD as he was aghast that as president of the country his own province did not even have a radio station. The rest is history.
And so- we honor Garcia’s memory on his 127 birthday with so much pride and admiration that one of our own could make it to the top and leave a lasting legacy that all his province mates can be proud of forever. SHALOM!
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