Dapat Tama: The Philippine Electoral System Perspective

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The purchase of elections is a phenomenon in Philippine politics that political candidates who use them as political strategies clandestinely practice as underground activities. The study investigated the phenomenon of voting acquisition in the Philippines during periodic national and local elections. It used sub-data from multiple sources and released arbitrary newspapers on fraud and voting methods that influence decisively election results and the country’s election scheme. This phenomenon that underlies the client relationship is a dual link, depending on the return of cash and voting rights, between reciprocity and a reciprocal obligation connecting people of disproportionate social status and power.

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Those who are less educated and rural people are one of the most vulnerable voting groups to buy votes. The study concludes that the purchase of votes as practiced in the Philippines penetrated all administrative levels. The truth of the purchase of votes is culturally intrinsic to fraud, intimidation and the violent means of winning the elections.

Keywords: Vote buying, electoral system, political culture, voters’ education, election exercise, rural residents, Philippines.

It recognizes the counting of votes which signals election outcomes whereby any candidate vying for public office is directly elected to a particular position based on what he/she runs for. The entire election exercise is viewed as an instrument for evaluating and changing governments at all levels of the bureaucracy. It is also regarded as a legal opportunity for those in power and those who are not to influence each other. The electorates are the very heart of this political process where in the Philippine political context, every legal age Filipino has the right to vote and elect government officials.

It is during the height of the election campaign where vote buying casts dark shadows towards realizing clean election outcomes. When election exercise is approaching, candidates through «vote brokers» usually tender cash offerings or material gifts to electorates who are registered voters within their jurisdiction. Vote buying in the Philippines is considered illegal but continually proliferates as underground activities where political candidates engaged themselves. In this paper, the author critically examined the issue of vote-buying in the Philippines during periodic elections in the national and local levels.

The paper also reviewed and analyzed the veracity of vote-buying phenomenon in shaping the electoral system of the country from the point of view of the political candidates and voters.

This study anchored its theoretical framework on the Public Choice Theory of Buchanan and Tullock. The theory stresses that people are primarily motivated by self-interests. The theorists assumed that people, though show concerns for others, are mainly motivated by self-interests, may they be politicians, lobbyists, voters or bureaucrats participating in the political arena. Presented in this paper are related literature whose findings revolve around the vote buying phenomenon and scenarios occurring during election campaigns and during voting exercise. Gersbach and Muhe noted that vote buying tactic has been widely used in developing countries to shape election outcomes. In like manner, Schopf acknowledged that politicians need to reward their supporters to keep their power wherein this reward tactic has to cover the majority of their voting constituents.

This is accomplished through the allocation of private goods or buying votes as effective means to secure support during 39 International Peer Reviewed Journal election exercise. Gersbach and Muhe also found that vote buying contributes to the persistence of poverty as taxed wealthy people buy votes from poor people.

Vilalta reported that many countries of the globe practice vote buying which is seen as a conventional strategy for garnering votes during elections and it starts as soon as there are electoral campaigns. He noted that countries which practice vote buying include Egypt, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Russia, Serbia, Brazil, Argentine, Venezuela and Mexico. On the downside, when election is over and vote buying candidates get elected into office, Africans usually get disappointed when their elected officials and representatives never fulfill their promises and do not anymore listen to their constituents.

The vote buying practice has also shaped the political milieu of Thailand where it has become one of the campaign tactics and a power retention strategy during elections. In the context of Thai political culture, Callahan stressed that vote buying is a result of unique associations of powers between polity and economy, urban and rural areas, official and unofficial transactions. He stressed that to fight against vote buying practice, «one needs to challenge the dynamics of these relationships. Hicken, Leider, Ranavilla and Yang reported the case of vote buying occurrences in Sorsogon, Philippines.

Objective of the Study

The study determined the veracity of vote buying using the perspective of the Philippine electoral system.


The study used descriptive design involving secondary data from various source agencies and published refereed journals on practices of fraud and vote buying which have crucially shape out election results and the electoral system of the country. Qualitative data gathered from online refereed journals served as sources for the discussions of results.

Results and Discussion

Apparently, many Filipino voters regard vote buying as a particular offer from election candidates which can influence their vote and produce instrumental compliance. Another noticeable vote buying form in the Philippines is the one-time transaction between the election candidate and the voter. This clearly manifests the perpetuation of vote buying practices on electorates in the rural areas. Indicatively, the level of education plays a crucial role on the issue surrounding vote buying.

In fact, Schaffer noted that vote buying as practiced in the Philippines manifests the sensitivity of politicians to the more vulnerable voters who are poor and the less educated. From the Philippine political cultural context, election is viewed to be the primary mechanism in determining who has political control over the government in the national and local levels. The most crucial issue is how to get elected, then every benefit will be at reach by those getting the positions. Apparently, vote buying practices continued to proliferate in the Philippines.

There are several factors which contribute to the continuous existence of vote buying. In the end, the offender can easily deny the charge 42 International Journal on Graft and Corruption Research and the filed allegation can be dismissed easily for lack of established proof. This is one of the reasons where vote buying become rampant during election period and is often executed with impunity.

History of VoteBuying in the Philippines

The acquisition of votes is not only a recent development in the Philippine elections. It began out with the arrival of Spanish invaders and proceeded to thrive and develop as fresh technology advanced and fresh concepts developed. In the Philippines, pre-colonial elections didn’t purchase votes because power was presumed not by ballot but by inheritance. The Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines decreased in the early Spanish period with the start of the Philippine revolution. The revolution resulted to the formation of Aguinaldo’s regime. Under this state, most representatives of the principalia category were chosen and elections were conducted only for greater stances. During this period, there were no large polls, so it was not an alternative to buy votes. In the Philippines, the coming of the American era began to purchase votes. The Americans granted the freedom to govern and to parliament to all Filipinos. The caste rule began in the Philippines in 60, which became organic legislation for all communal authorities. The Act stipulated that only the elite could vote and take part in voting. They were accustomed with the authority that the Spaniards once refused. Since then they have done whatever they can and cost to be chosen in office in attempt to maintain this authority. Here are some of the recorded votes purchased between the United States and the current era. Money again was a very significant instrument in 1940 local elections.

Because of their huge fame among their voters, his rich adversary earned the elections almost 7,000 ballots, he was expected to win a gubernatory contest in the Province of Pampanga. There were no proof of his opponent’s policies, but his opponents were convinced of the cash his adversary used to purchase the people’s ballots. Moncado criticized Cabili of being illegitimate campaigning for those who will vote for him by offering free legal facilities and jobs.

In 1949, President Elpidio Quirino allegedly made every form of fraud and deception to guarantee his presidency. In the cash, employment and barrels of pork Quirino and his other applicants used huge and entire-sale voting. It was revealed that during his election campaign, Quirino used almost four million pesos. The three provinces in which the election took place.

This was regarded before the martial law era the bloodiest and dirtiest campaign. It is reported that both sides used various methods to secure their win. Reports indicated that approximately 700 million pesos and 300 million pesos were invested by the Nationalist Party and the Liberal Party. The cash originated from pork barrel investments and was used to buy ballots and press charges. The neighborhood capitans were charged with dividing cash between people living in the neighborhood. At the 1992 elections, press advertising was banned, and the applicants had more money for their initiatives. He was reported to have given free cash and tickets for Hong Kong during his campaign to Feliciano Belmonte, a Congressional candidate in Quézon City. In the election of 1995, press publicity was also prohibited. Bionat reports that the Cebu mayor has obtained a reward of 50 thousand to 100 thousand pesos for voting on the administration’s 12 senatorial points.

Like what Marcos did, candidates also bought the votes of the grassroots leader. Barangay captains accepted a minimum of 500 pesos and a maximum of 20,000 pesos from the candidates. In the 2004 Presidential elections, Arroyo committed almost all kinds of fraud according to Tuazon. One example is the Oplan Mercury that was exposed by Rudy Galang. The goals of this plan are to use public funds to the campaign, to provide money to local officials and to buy the support of those in the opposition. We still continue to perform the practices of the past.


On the basis of the above debates, the research has concluded that the accuracy of vote buying in the Philippines entered the country’s electoral system at all stages of bureaucracy. The weakness of voters can be demonstrated by education and residential homes, where voting procedures are mainly perpetuated between urban people and undereducated voters. The truth of voting is deeply entangled in bribery, intimidation and even brutal methods of winning the election campaign. Most often, electoral practice in the Philippines shows an incompetence in the assembly of political officials who are intended to lead to good governance and public administration to a major political practice of liberty. Finally, the research revealed that the arguments of Public Choice Theories supporters are that political representatives are chiefly motivated by their own self-interest to give their voters specific support with key reasons for electing voters. 43 International journal for peer review.


The study recommends that authentic, effective and efficient implementation of the electoral process has to be enforced at all levels of the bureaucracy. Ultimately, voter’s education needs to be undertaken since early school age levels so that starting early in life, children would know that vote buying is not, and should never be the norm in deciding whom to choose during elections. Related studies may be explored focusing on other perspectives of vote buying supportive to full understanding of its phenomenon and mechanism thereby help policymakers in designing more effective measures to put an end to this illegal election-driven practice. Another study may also be pursued to explore if vote buying has implications to the economic development at the local and national governments.

Voters are not willing to reject the items even if conditions are attached to them. One of the major implications of vote buying is that it can trigger corruption by politicians after they are voted into power. This is because they would want to get return on money invested during election campaigns. This can lead to the abuse of state resources.

The use of incentives to buy votes may have repercussions on Philippines elections. Since the findings concluded that there is a relationship between income and voters’ decisions, governments should make it a point to reduce poverty by enhancing wealth redistribution. This can be done by creating or providing sustainable jobs, especially for the rural folks. There is the need for more voter education and sensitization campaigns or awareness of citizens about the malpractice of buying votes.

By the use of incentives to buy votes the power of the ordinary Filipino is gradually being sold to the rich politicians who may decide who wins an election in the country. All stakeholders of elections in Philippines including the National Commission for Civic Education, the Electoral Commission together with media houses must educate the public on the negative effects of vote buying on the country’s democracy. Besides, religious bodies can re-instill morals into their congregations who form the voting population.

07 September 2020

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