Thursday, May 10, 2007
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Blog Lecture No. 75: Election Offenses (Part II: Vote Buying)

Let's tackle one of the most obvious election offense: Vote Buying.

How does our election law define vote buying and vote selling?

1. Any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.

2. Any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.
Who are liable?

Those who buy votes and those who sell them.

And it is not limited to persons. It also covers associations, groups, corporations or communities who does the same act.

What are the elements of the offense?

You remember in any contract there are the three elements. Here, it's similar:

1. Subject -- the actors, the buyer and the seller (as stated above)

2. Object -- the vote (for or against a particular candidate or party list; or in the case of "negative vote buying/selling" not to vote at all)

3. Consideration -- the "payment" to vote (or not to vote as the case maybe)

This is not limited to actual payment. Even a promise of payment is sufficient.

Payment is likewise not limited to money. It includes anything of value, including employment, franchises, grants or even to shoulder an expenditure for the vote seller.

What are the consequences of this offense?

Aside from being an election offense that carries criminal sanctions, it can be used to disqualify the candidate...

4 Objection(s):

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous titopao said...

Question po:

The example of rewards you've mentioned so far are items that are pecuniary in nature or, at least, can be translated in financial terms or monetary figures (another obvious example would be insurance policies, I think). By "reward", would other non-monetary incentives also count? I can't think of a specific example, but I'm thinking of rewards that can't just easily be translated in terms of money.

Also (related to my previous question), how about if the person or candidate did this way, way before the campaign period started? For example (this is a real-life example), a mayor's wife distributed notebooks, pencil cases and other school supplies with her name and picture. (In fact, her name on these materials appear as "Mayora XXX" even though her husband is the incumbent mayor.)

Thanks in advance! :)

 
At 9:38 AM, Blogger Punzi said...

I think the term "anything of value" sufficiently covers a lot of things, as long as it induces the potential voter to vote for a particular candidate. That's the main point, to induce to vote (or not to vote) in a certain way.

There is a saying in law that "whatever you cannot do directly, you also cannot do indirectly." And that principle applies to your example, especially if that "mayora" is not even a candidate but her husband is.

hope this helps...

regards

 
At 1:38 PM, Anonymous titopao said...

Thanks, that was indeed helpful :)

One other follow-up question, although not exactly related to the topic of vote-buying...in this case, the "mayora" (i.e. the incumbent mayor's wife) fashions herself as such---that is, she calls herself "mayora"---not just during the course of the election campaign, but even as far as two years back. Name any project that she supposedly leads, she'll not list her name as simply "Mrs. XXX' but "Mayora XXX" (and, more often than not, without having to mention her husband as the incumbent). I've heard some rumors that in her husband's absence, she would sign some official papers (short of saying that she's running Town/City Hall), but since this is hearsay I'd rather not believe this.

Would the use of the term or title "Mayora", in itself, constitute a potential crime or legal violation? Or would the rumored acts mentioned above (assuming they were indeed true) be considered the violation? (Btw, this is her husband's 9th year in office, which explains why she's running under his party's banner.)

Thanks po uli! This series of columns is one of the main reasons your blog is always on my daily reads :D

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Punzi said...

IMHO:

1. Calling yourself "Mayora" is not necessarily illegal or bad, if by Mayora, she means "wife of mayor" as Filipinos sometimes call official's wives. But if the term means "little mayor" or "commander of mayor" that is something else.

2. If she signs in place of her husband mayor, she's guilty of two things: 1. Falsification and 2. Usurpation of authority.

hope this helps as well and thanks for reading...

 

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