By Erwin Mascariñas
BUTUAN City – A Roman Catholic-owned university here has raised concerns over results of a survey conducted by its policy center that showed that 73.54 percent of this city’s voters have no problems with accepting money from candidates on election day.
The survey was conducted April 15-25, 2019 by the Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) Policy Center.
Lawyer Josefa Sorrera-Ty, director of the FSUU Policy Center and dean of the university’s college of law, said the survey was part of the institution’s commitment to provide the general public with an accurate and non-partisan self-report regarding voters’ perceptions.
Ty said the data were gathered from 2,188 respondents from each of the city’s 86 barangays who represented one percent of Butuan’s voting population.
“Part of the survey asked if they will accept money from candidates or political parties in the upcoming election. The result showed 73.54 percent,” Ty said.
She revealed that 42.60 percent of the respondents said they expected to receive money from candidates or political parties this coming election while 57.40 percent said otherwise.
“This maybe because this year’s local election is not as hotly contested as that of previous years,” said Ty.
She said that when the respondents were asked whether they will vote for the political party or candidates that gave them money, 37.43 percent answered “yes” while 62.57 percent answered “no.”
Most of the respondents were female at 55.48 percent; 67.73 percent are between the ages of 25 and 60 years; 66.18 percent are married; 51.92 percent attained secondary education; 37.16 percent were unemployed; 22.62 percent are daily wage earners; 47.17 percent have annual incomes below P40 thousand; and 42.78 percent have their daily wage as the main source of family income.
The Rev. Father Randy Jasper Odchigue, vice president for Academic Affairs of FSUU, said the survey results indicate a failure to address the problem and the culture of vote-buying.
Odchigue said poverty remains as a big problem, noting that 58.81 percent of the respondents answered that after receiving money they would use it to buy rice and food while 17.22 percent stated that they will use it for household bills and family expenses.
Jody Navarra, a civil society activist, said he has witnessed vote buying in the city since the 1950s, and blamed it on poor family values.
“The culture of fraud through vote buying has been passed down from grandparents to their grandchildren. Because of the hard times and frustrations from the political and electoral system, the younger generation accept money, and earn from the elections,” said Navarra.
Navara said family members have been used in past elections in the distribution of money to buy votes.
“Most of the time, heads of families were the ones who bring the names of the family members to political groups to sell their votes. The sad part is that they are even proud and brag about how much money they have received,” he said.
The Rev. Father John Young, president of FSUU, expressed his concerns on the task of fighting the culture of vote buying.
“Both academe and the church play a huge role in the information and in educating the public about vote buying, but this culture should be fought first within our homes as it all boils down to family values,” said Young.