DURING LOCAL ELECTIONS, MONEY TALKS
© 2019 By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
CHICAGO (JGL) — Why can’t Philippine Congress give overseas Filipino voters the option to elect local candidates of their native cities
or last known residential city addresses?
WITH PRESIDENT DUTERTE:
THEN DAVAO Mayor Rody Duterte is shown raising the hand of then vice gubernatorial candidate Vladimir B. Frivaldo while campaigning for president in the 2016 elections in Sorsogon City. Mr. Frivaldo is now running for governor in the May 13, 2019 elections. (Photo by Vladimir B. Frivaldo)
For many Filipino overseas voters, these mid-term elections are boring since they are only voting for 12 senators and one party-list party on Monday, May 13, (polls closes at 5 a.m. Central Time Monday at the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, Illinois), unlike the exciting presidential elections.
The Philippine Constitution (Art. X, Sec. 3) mandates Congress to enact a “local government code which shall provide a more responsive and accountable local government structure … thru recall, initiative, and referendum … and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment, and removal … .”
PLEASE WATCH near the end of this video clip which shows either New People's Army or private army harassing a local election campaign of then Sorsogon vice gubernatorial candidate Vladimir B. Frivaldso during the 2016 Presidential Elections. Thankfully, the scenario was not repeated during the campaign period of the mid-term elections which ends on May 13, 2019 when Filipino and overseas voters will troop to the polls and various Embassies and consulates around the world to vote for 12 senators, one party-list party and local candidates in the case of Filipino voters back home. Frivaldo is now running for Sorsogon governor. Please see also the story. Videography by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Aside from being allowed to vote, run for office and contribute to political parties, overseas Filipino voters, including dual citizens, have also a deep concern for the welfare of their constituents and development of their cities or last known city addresses as they look forward to their vacation or retirement.
This becomes stark when a calamity like a typhoon, an earthquake or a volcano eruption strikes their home cities. Natives of the calamity-stricken city overseas are the first responders to mobilize assistance by raising funds and remitting them thru local government officials. If they know that their assistance trickles down to the neediest, they are encouraged to send more.
SAMPLE BALLOT FOR CHRISTINE LEE-BALITA FOR 1ST DISTRICT OF SORSOGON:
THIS IS the sample ballot being circulated a few days before the run-up of the mid-term elections on Monday, May 13, 2019 in Sorsogon province in the Philippines. (Contributed photo)
TOO SLOW TO SEND ASSISTANCE
On the other hand, if they learned from their relatives and friends that the assistance they sent away only benefited local leaders and not the neediest, next time another calamity strikes, they will be too slow to send assistance.
If the overseas Filipinos really want to punish the local leaders for helping themselves with the assistance instead of the neediest, they should be allowed to vote in local elections, never mind if they don’t get enough information about the qualifications and characters of the candidates.
The overseas voters can get feedback from their relatives and friends just the same. Thanks to the free Facebook, emails, Twitter and other social media, they can now connect to their folks back more easily than ever than the more expensive telephone and snail mails popular over the past decades.
THIS IS THE SAMPLE BALLOT OF VICE MAYOR:
THIS SAMPLE ballot was obtained by PM (philamessenger.com) from his sources in his residential city and native province of Sorsogon. The sample ballot belongs to Mr. Florencio Jubilo Jamisola, Jr. who is running for Vice Mayor of Sorsogon City under the United Nationalists Alliance (UNA). (Contributed photo)
Even when it comes to medical missions, volunteer doctors, nurses and other health professionals are more excited to help their kababayans than doing the missions in other cities as they want to pay back to their native cities their dues.
Perhaps, those against this measure may just dismiss this proposal as wistful thinking because overseas votes are just few and far between. But think of a congressional election in Texas which was decided by one vote without any court challenge.
SEN. FRANCIS G. ESCUDERO:
TERMED OUT from running in the Philippine Senate, Sen. Francis "Chiz" G. Escudero, a veteran legislator as Congressman and Senator, will try his hand in the executive suite when he runs for Sorsogon governor, opposing former Sorsogon Provincial Board Member, Vladimir B. Frivaldo, grandson of the late Gov. Juan G. Frivaldo, the longest-serving governor of the Philippines. Mr. Escudero is running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) party.
OFV NOT INTERESTED IN GIVE-AWAYS
Overseas Filipino voters (OFV) are not really interested in the give-aways that local politicians enclose in the envelopes of their sample ballots. They are more interested on the programs and platforms of the local candidates that will bring in local economic and political reforms that will help solve peace and order problems, bring prices down and build public work infrastructures that they will feel and see when they return to their home cities during their vacation or when they return home for good.
HEIR TO HIS GRANDFATHER'S MANTLE:
FORMER PROVINCIAL Board Member Vladimir B Frivaldo, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party, will attempt to follow the footsteps of his grandfather, the late Gov. Juan G. Frivaldo, the longest-serving governor of the Philippines, when he takes on termed-out Sen. Francis "Chiz" G. Escudero to contest the vacant gubernatorial seat in Sorsogon, Philippines. (Facebook photo)
In a typical local election, for instance, in my home city and province of Sorsogon, incumbent elected officials are really enjoying the “equity of the incumbent” as they have access to government funds in the form of negotiated contracts of public works projects and even those done thru rigged public biddings.
Other public officials have additional sources from jueteng, a numbers’ game that can bring in a lot of money that is handy when elections roll around.
My late classmate, who was the legal adviser to the Sorsogon City mayor, was not yet inebriated when he picked up the tab for our food and drinks during our high school reunion several years ago. He told us not to pass around the hat anymore as he has enough money in his wallet. He said he had a weekly take-home earnings of PHP10,000 (US$192) a week from jueteng lords and he could easily recoup the expenses during our reunion. The minimum monthly income of an employee in the city is less than PHP7K.
THE MAN IN ORANGE SHIRT:
FORMER SORSOGON PROVINCIAL Board Member Vladimir B. Frivaldo in conspicuous orange shirt leads a street rally in Sorsogon to campaign to go out and vote on Monday, May 13, 2019 (voting closes at 5 a.m. Monday Central Time at the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, Illinois). Mr. Frivaldo is running for governor in Sorsogon Province in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Mr. Vladimir B. Frivaldo)
It’s not surprising that in the last few days, a friend of mine in Sorsogon was sending me photos of sample ballots with two hundred pesos (US$3.85) stuffed in an envelop as a give away to a voter.
Some of these politicians may not be seen doling out any money anymore during the run-up of the elections on Monday. But they already did their bidding in advance during last year’s barangay elections, when nobody was watching. The sources of these tens of millions of pesos dole-outs are the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and PDAP (Priority Development and Assistance Fund) pork barrels.
In Sorsogon province, there are 541 barangays. If a candidate for governor will allocate PHP10,000 (US$192) for each barangay captain, the candidate would only need PHP5.4-M (US$104,038).
NO FREE T-SHIRT & OTHER GIVE-AWAYS BUT ...:
A HUGE CROWD, reminiscent of the turnout of President Duterte's 2016 campaigns, shows its interest in the call of Sorsogon Provincial Board Member Vladimir B. Frivaldo, who asked them to join him to go out and vote on Monday (May 13, 2019) (voting closes 5 a.m. Monday Central Time at the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, Illinois). Mr. Frivaldo is running for governor of Sorsogon under the PDP-Laban Party of President Duterte. (Photo courtesy of Mr. Vladimir B. Frivaldo)
If he is not sure that barangay captain will support him even despite giving each of them a minimum of PHP10K, he can go direct to the voters by buying their votes at PHP200 each (US$3.85).
There are 450,000 voters in Sorsogon province. With 85% of them voting, a gubernatorial candidate will need at least 191,251 votes to put himself over the top. If the candidate gives away PHP200 to each voter, it will cost him PHP38,250,000 (US$736K). Chicken feed. This stash, though, is not available to gubernatorial candidate, Vladimir Frivaldo of President Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, who has no resources but volunteers.
ANTI-FM GRANDSON V. PRO-FM SON
The grandson of anti-Marcos and Philippines’ longest-serving governor, Juan G. Frivaldo, former Provincial Board Member, Vladimir B. Frivaldo, is up against Marcos’ Agriculture Sec. Salvador “Sonny” Escudero’s son, termed-out Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, for the governorship of Sorsogon.
FORMER SORSOGON GOV. RAUL R. Lee is not on the ballot on Monday (May 13, 2019) but his wife, Sally Lee, is, and their two children are. Sally Lee is running for re-election as Sorsogon City Mayor under the United Nationalists Alliance (UNA) while their daughter, Christine Rodrigueza Balita, and son, incumbent junior Sorsogon Gov. Bobet Lee Rodrigueza, who accommodated Sen. Chiz Escudero's plan to replace him as Sorsogon governor without being termed-out, are running as Representatives in Sorsogon's First and Second Districts, respectively, both of them under the PDP-Laban party. The unexpected alliance of Mr. Lee, following his open break with former ally, Sen. Chiz Escudero, with his former nemesis, Vladimir B. Frivaldo, with Lee's children under PDP-Laban, however, had raised eyebrows when sample ballots being distributed by Christine Rodrigueza Balita does not carry Vladimir B. Frivaldo's name as governor. Ms. Balita is opposing incumbent Rep. Evie G. Escudero, mother of Sen. Chiz Escudero, while Bobet Lee is contesting the congressional post vacated by termed-out Rep. Deogracias "Ding" Ramos, whose sister, Ma. Bernardita “Ditas” Banares Ramos of NPC, is trying to fit in his shoes. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
Although, Frivaldo’s supporters deny it that former Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee, a former ally of Escudero, had abandoned Frivaldo, sample ballots being distributed by Lee’s daughter, Christine Rodrigueza-Balita, who is running for Congress in the First District of Sorsogon, do not carry Frivaldo as governor. The Frivaldo-Lee surprise alliance in this election is still smarting from an old spat between the two when Frivaldo had earlier charged Lee and other board members with graft in 2012 in connection with the PHP350-M (US$6.7-M) loan with the Land Bank of the Philippines before the Ombudsman, which dropped the charges in 2015.
No word yet what happened to the hearing of the case against Sen. Chiz Escudero, his mother, 1st District Rep. Evie Escudero, Barcelona, Sorsogon Mayor Manuel Fortes and 2nd District Congressional candidate Ditas Ramos last May 9 at the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros, Manila where they were charged by Sorsoganon City native Revor J. Lasay with disqualification for violating the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) when they donated PHP50,000 (US$1,000) to the Our Lady of Penafrancia Seminar (OLPS) in Sorsogon City for the use of its premises for a political proclamation rally last March 31, 2019, or two days after the start of the 45-day campaign period for local candidates.
Aside from the voters, candidates will also have to contend with the “revolutionary tax” that the New People’s Army (NPA) demand from candidates before providing them permit to campaign in their territory.
VLADI, ME & FRIENDS:
THIS SOUVENIR photo shows then Sorsogon Provincial Board Member Vladimir B. Frivaldo (extreme right) during the 2016 Presidential Elections when he was running for vice governor under the PDP-Laban ticket of his fellow Provincial Board Member Eric Dioneda (to his right), who was running for Sorsogon governor. But they did not match the money and wherewithal of the victorious incumbent Gov. Raul R. Lee's son Bobet Lee. Also in photo is this reporter, Joseph G. Lariosa, (extreme left) and his nephew, Manning L. Villamor, who was then running for councilor of Sorsogon City’s west district. The photo was taken at this reporter's niece's home in Cambulaga, Sorsogon City. (JGL Photo)
The NPA’s, who are being coddled by national politicians in the province (please watch the video clip above), get a side income during elections — they are hired to harass and intimidate the opponents of the politicians who hired them.
Some politicians will also buy out the rivals, advancing a miserly downpayment of 10% and with a promissory note to pay the balance of hundreds of thousands of pesos after the election which is never fulfilled.
SORSOGON LOCAL CANDIDATES:
Here are the candidates in Sorsogon local elections:
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC); Former Provincial Board Member Vladimir B Frivaldo, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban);
Lady Galban Gabarda, Labor Party of the Philippines (LPL); and 9 other candidates;
For Provincial Board Members:
There are18 candidates vying for five (5) Sorsogon First Provincial District’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members; 15 candidates contesting also five (5) Sorsogon’s Second District’s Sangguian Panlalawigan Members;
For Sorsogon -First Legislative District’s Member, House of Representatives:
Former Gov. Raul Lee’s daughter, Christine Rodrigueza Balita (PDP-Laban);
Re-electionist Evelina “Nanay” G. Escudero (NPC); and Eddie Olazo Latino of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP);
For Sorsogon- Second Legislative District’s Member, House of Representatives:
Juan Escandor, Jr. Ind.; Totie Gables, Ind.; Jack Holaso, Inc.; Randy Giddy Medina, Lakas
Christian Muslim Democrats; Ma. Bernardita “Ditas” Banares Ramos, NPC; and Gov. Robert “Bobet” Ante Lee Rodrigueza, Ma. Bernardita Banares Ramos
Bobet Lee Rodrigueza, PDP-Laban.
For Sorsogon City Mayor:
Atty. Jonathan “Atan” Grencio Balintong, PDP-Laban; Incumbent Vice Gov. Ma. Ester Escasa Hamor, NPC; and incumbent Mayor Sally Lee, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
For Vice Mayor:
Mark Eric Calog Dioneda, NPC, versus Florencio Jubilo Jamisola, Jr., UNA.
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