(Photo from wikipedia.com)

Election authorities should focus on preventing vote-buying and scrutinizing how candidates fund their campaigns, former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday, October 29.

This is amid renewed concerns about potentially widespread vote-buying in the run-up to the May 2022 elections, with Vice President Leni Robredo recently weighing in on the issue.

“Ang pinaka-guilty sa vote buying ang mga kandidato mismo. Bakit ko nasabi yan? Kase ang kandidato na tumanggap sa drug lord, sa gambling lord, sa e-sabong, sa smuggler, yan ang nabili na ng mga y’un. Ang pera na kinuha nila ay pambili lang ng boto,” Cayetano said at a press conference.

(When it comes to vote-buying, the most guilty party are the candidates themselves. Why do I say that? Because the candidates accept money from drug lords, gambling lords, online cockfight operators, from smugglers, those candidates have sold themselves. The money they received will most likely be used to buy votes.)

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At the same time, Cayetano said he will not judge voters who take money from politicians because they may be suffering difficulties in their lives.

The former House Speaker, who filed his certificate of candidacy for the Senate as an independent bet, earlier said passing the 10K Ayuda Bill would help prevent widespread vote-buying by putting money directly into people’s hands.

Cayetano also stressed the importance of holding presidential candidates accountable to their pre-election statements, emphasizing the need for presidential debates, familiarizing oneself with the presidential candidates, and being analytical when it comes to voting.

He also proposed four topics that he believes would benefit Filipinos if they were tackled by the presidential candidates in a debate: COVID-19 response, the Philippine economy, their plans of action, and their values.

“Lahat sila nagsabi ng dapat. Dapat may ganito, dapat. Pero paano? Sa debate kase, or kung ayaw ng debate then forum, mangyayari ito. Lalabas kung ano ang ampaw, lalabas kung ano yung solid,” Cayetano said.

(Everyone says things like ‘It should be like this, it should be like that. There must be something like this. But how? In the case of debate, or if you don’t want a debate then a forum, what will happen is that we can tell who is saying things just for the sake of saying something and who is saying something concrete.)

While he believes presidential candidates do not need to be the best debater, Cayetano said they should be good communicators as the role of Chief Executive requires communicating with the international community, their Cabinet, the military, the police, and the people.

On whether the Former Speaker is open to a partnership with the remaining presidential candidates who have not yet completed their Senate lineup, Cayetano said he will choose the “objective” option.

“May ilan na nagtanong sa akin if payag ako mag guest candidate sa kanila. I will not impose, I will be grateful but I want to be able to assess the presidentiables objectively. I owe it to God, to myself, to my country na tingnan sila objectively,” he said.

(Some have asked me if I am willing to be part of their lineup as a guest candidate. I will not impose. I will be grateful but I want to be able to assess the presidential objectively. I owe it to God, to myself, to my country to look at them objectively.)

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