This year will see the Philippines’ third automated polls – the first one was the elections in 2010. But though automation means more security in vote-counting and faster results, it cannot prevent irregularities such as vote-buying – an acknowledged fact in a country where 60 per cent of the people live below the poverty line. Marcelino Farjardo, a 58-year-old tricycle driver, earns around 300 to 500 pesos (US$6-10) a day. He supplements this income with earnings from his family-run internet shop which earns him an additional US$15-21 a week. However, with five children to feed life is still a struggle, so when politicians make the rounds in the run-up to elections offering gifts, holidays and money in exchange for a vote, it can be hard to resist. “If it will help my people, why not? … Tricycle drivers are poor too,” he said.
People Channel NewsAsia spoke to say a family that accepts a candidate’s offer will receive US$107, while an entire barangay – which means village or district – can command payment of up to U$1,000.
Most of the people who choose to sell their votes live below the poverty line, more concerned about putting food on the table each and every day than assessing what their future president can provide to them in the long term.