Non-tax payers should not be allowed to vote

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

I had the privilege of being invited to speak before the councilors who participated in the fourth quarterly regional convention of the Philippine Councilors League last week. The forum took place at the Bai Hotel, Mandaue City. Hon Mark Dan Aurelia, (of Bayawan City, Negros Oriental), the regional chairman, made it clear to me that their program was planned to be different, in content and substance, from previous fora. He got me excited because I have been a normal fixture in their conferences and I wanted to find out how different is different. In my time slot and in order to get the initial attention of the sanggunian members in attendance, I opened my sharing by asking them for their comments and observations on the recently concluded Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. My plan was to work on that opener for no more than five minutes. I, of course, knew that my listeners were somehow involved, directly or indirectly in the hustings. Or so I thought.

The reactions of my audience were totally unexpected. That was a difference I noted. Considering that they are politicians, I surmised that they would simply validate what they practiced in their own 2022 elections. My expectation was off its mark. The councilors’ manifestations sounded disturbing. According to them, the electoral process had turned farcical. It became a “money contest” (a choice euphemism) of sort. He who had the proverbial gold got elected. The issues of competence and moral righteousness were ignored. Someone in the audience spoke of a candidate who allegedly paid P1,500 to each elector to vote for him. That figure seemed the common “buying rate” although another participant stood up and said that in his place, a candidate for barangay captain allocated an unbelievable amount of P5,000 for every voter!

The five-minute intro passed by unnoticed. I went beyond the time I planned for that supposedly attention-getting opener. Our environment became garrulous. It only ceased when we all agreed that vote buying had to be stopped. To return to discussing to my topic was my welcome exit from the unintended noise coming from the mass of angered politicians.

Indeed, how to stop vote buying? It is as drastic as reinventing our constitution and revisiting some democratic concepts. I begin with the idea that we put a qualification to a person for him to vote. Only the citizens who contribute to finance the government shall be qualified to vote. An elector must first be a tax payer. A tax payment is a citizen’s investment in running the affairs of government. The tax payer should be given the opportunity to elect the men and women who will eventually decide on how revenues will be spent.

Look around, the P1,500 (or P5,000) spent by the candidate was given, in most likelihood, to a person who has not paid any tax. But, do you know of any political candidate who allocates money to buy the vote of a professional like a hotel front desk clerk, a midwife, a teacher, a seaman, a nurse, an accountant, an engineer, a priest, a businessman, a doctor and a lawyer (ad infinitum)? I firmly believe that these are tax payers who, during elections, elect candidates on the basis of competence and righteousness. These tax payers contribute the money used to run the government. Yet, I dare say that the totality of these voters may just be one tenth (1/10) of those who do not pay taxes. So, the competent candidates of the former usually lose to the money of the candidates of the latter. See?

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