By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte assured that candidates who will be proven to have bought votes will be prosecuted but said the practice of vote buying will be difficult to eliminate.
Duterte made the statement following reports of vote buying in several parts of the country days before Monday’s midterm polls.
In an interview with reporters after he cast his vote, Duterte said that those who will be proven to have bought votes will answer to the law. However, he said the practice of vote buying is already deeply rooted in the country.
“If they are caught, they will be prosecuted to the fullest of the law,” he said.
“Now, the practice of buying votes has been an integral part of an election in the Philippines,” he added.
According to Duterte, there is also no candidate who does not buy votes.
“Lahat ‘yan. Walang hindi nagbibili ng boto dito. Walang hindi nagbibili ng boto. Ituro mo kung sino ang hindi nagbili ng boto (Everybody does that. Who does not buy votes? Tell me if there is someone who does not do that),” he said.
However, Duterte explained that giving money does not necessarily mean that a candidate is buying a vote since it can just be an act of goodwill, or a candidate’s obligation to his poll watchers or campaign leaders.
“You know when you start to give money, that’s not because I’m buying the vote of the fellow. It’s because I’m giving him money to go to the presinto (precinct), cast his vote, and go home. Hindi naman lahat ng tao may pera (Not everyone has money),” he said.
“Or you send food to your leaders who are here sacrificing and waiting for the food to eat so they can last until the last vote is counted. Me? Hindi naman lahat ‘yang pagdaan basta lang may makita ka nakain diyan eh binibigyan (You do not just give to everyone you pass by). Eh for all you know leader ko ‘yan. Alangan namang patayin ko sa gutom (For all you know he’s my campaign leader. I cannot starve him to death),” he added.
Duterte also said that people will always be vulnerable to vote to buy for as long as the Philippines “remains to be a poor country.”
Earlier, Duterte said people should not make money a factor when voting for a candidate.