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Editorial: Enjoy it while it lasts

They came by the hundreds, on the roofs of passenger buses and jeepneys, festooned on tricycles like Christmas decorations, and hanging on to their drivers on overloaded motorcycles.

Voters who felt like one-day millionaires descended into the capital town in the days after the May 10 elections as they splurge the money they earned from selling votes on groceries, food at the restaurants, appliances, bamboo furniture, bicycles and even brand-new motorcycles acquired on downpayment basis.

Many workers, especially those who were either on-the-job trainees or worked for low-paying jobs, took time off for the week, throwing their companies’ schedules into disarray. One hotel was so short of personnel that the night guard took over the receptionist’s table.

Understandably, the local economy in Virac got a huge boost, with many business establishments enjoying sales at least twice than normal. One supermarket had the advantage of stocking up on goods a week before while another boasted sales of P800,000 in a single day.

The phenomenon did have another downside: restaurants ran out of items on their menus while stores reported losing stocks of beer. After all, the voters needed to chow down good food and they wanted to relax with a cold beer in hand, now that the vote-buying is over.

While the level of money that changes hands paled in comparison to 2007 (the PBM candidates gave only P20 in cash, when they doled out as much as P100 three years ago), the results of the automated local elections showed that even a saintly candidate should buy votes to win a seat in the Sangguniang Bayan. No money, no honey.

It certainly compels some people to push our leaders to declare Catanduanes as the vote-buying capital of the Philippines, to add to our having the juiciest crabs, finest abaca fiber and durable tiger grass. Come to think of it, we can even put up a trade and entertainment festival on the next three days after an election. It should be easy to convince local stores to join, considering that last Monday alone, our honorable candidates gave away P300 million just to buy votes.

Aside from this, the boost for local tourism is obvious. Our natives who have resided in other places in the country don’t normally go home for elections. Now, they will in 2013 so they will be included in the warding list of local politicians and get as much as P5,000 each for voting.

Now, since Catanduanganons are no longer ashamed of being branded vote-sellers, then we should embrace this idea. We have enough time to prepare. In three years, our rich candidates will be running again. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Source: Editorial, Catanduanes Tribune - 20 May 2010

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