By Mortz C. Ortigoza
Some candidates for the mayoralty spent hundreds of millions of pesos to buy votes in the May 13 election. Some councilors spent up to P5 million each just to be on the top 10 in the city poll or top 8 in the municipal contest. A mayor and councilor receive a monthly pay of more than P50 thousand and P30 thousand, respectively, during their three years of service.
The compensation and perks they legally received from the government are not enough to recoup the millions of pesos they spent months or years of ingratiation with the masses before the May 13 derby. Those monies the mayor earned in his earlier stint as hizzoner he got through illegal means like cut or S.O.P from government projects under their watch and illegal number games like jueteng and drop balls have been reverted back to the hoi polloi through vote buying and dole outs.
The millions of pesos an elected councilor spent during the campaign period could no longer be recovered in his three years stint since he got no power as big as the mayor who can dip his finger on illegal funds. Both the mayor and councilor spent these gargantuan amounts just to buy a position that give them prestige whenever they go to social functions.
I’ve been telling some friends that politics in the Philippines is a game for the moneyed and not for the intelligent. You may have a master or doctoral degree or you passed the BAR examination but you would still lose the election to a deep pocketed high school graduate - businessman who generously give monies to the poor in their time of need years before the election. Filipino voters treat one's generosity with debt of gratitude. They will reciprocate that gesture in the ballot boxes.
An influential political figure in Pangasinan corroborated what reelectionist governor Amado T. Espino declared at the victory party for the media he tendered recently that two weeks before the May 13, 2013 poll Espino’s gubernatorial rival Hernani Braganza received P150 million from the power that be in Manila.
“Maraming pera ngayon si Nani. May P50 million siya,” the political figure quipped. Espino said out of the P150 million he received, Nani gave only P2 million to his vice gubernatorial ticket Art Lomibao. Susmariosep, was this true Nani?
Two weeks before the election, Braganza was aggressive on his attack TV ads at GMA-7 and ABS-CBN where he has six 30 second slots at each of the TV networks everyday. Those TV ads, with his scurrilous portrayals of Espino, made him cough millions of pesos.
In the earlier and middle stages of the 45 days campaign period, the camp of Braganza was a butt of jokes among the supporters of Espino because he was running without enough funds but with sheer confidence and his supporters' various demolition jobs to boot. One of the punch lines of these jokes was his cousin and fellow Liberal Party Board Member Ranjit Shahani who zealously been raiding his mayoral bets all over Pangasinan by giving them P100 thousand each allegedly complement of Espino, a stalwart of the Nationalist Peoples' Coalition. I was shown with photos and signatures that most of these LP bets have soiled their hands from Ranjit’s bribe. “Paano, gutom daw sila sa LP,” somebody butted in.
(Send Comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)