THE recent May 9 elections may have set new records in terms of transmission speed, quick count and voter turnout, but it is also the most “vicious” and “divisive” in recent history, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.
“The viciousness and division of the election campaign may be said to be initiated by the entire machinery of the ‘yellow’ administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd that cast its absolute and massive support to the hierarchy of the Liberal Party, as if the entire government resources were an entitlement of the favored political party,” said an editorial posted on the CBCP news website.
The editorial was posted on June 2.
It said it can be attributed to a number of factors, among them the use of government helicopter and military and other resources by the President’s youngest sister Kris Aquino when she campaigned for Administration presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd .
“The most dramatic was Kris Aquino, the President’s sister who campaigned for Mar Roxas, the Administration’s candidate, using the government’s helicopter, military and sundry resources–with nary any respect for neither law nor propriety,” the editorial added.
The President earlier defended his sister on the use of the presidential chopper on one of the campaign sorties of the LP, saying Kris is among the biggest taxpayers in the country and qualifies as a guest of the President.
The editorial pointed out that the President, for always wearing the yellow color of the Liberal Party, promoted divisiveness as the Office of the President is supposed to be a symbol of unity and never an exclusive domain of one political party.
It said the May 9 elections were marred by widespread vote-buying, which it described as the “most massive” and the “most pervasive.”
The CBCP editorial cited a report from Msgr. Meliton Oso, archdiocesan coordinator of Church-based election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in Iloilo, who said “candidates and party-list groups were giving out P500 per voter” and P3,000 per family in the guise of scholarship programs.
Aside from the cash doleouts on Election Day, it said the Aquino administration using P100 billion in government funds, through the so-called “Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB),” in the run-up to last month’s polls was suspect.
“But then again the biggest vote-buyer, and therefore the biggest violator of the Omnibus Election Code, could be the Aquino administration. Aside from the cash shoved to voters on Election Day, the Bottom-Up Budgeting [BUB] program of the government was allegedly intended to buy the support of local government officials,” according to the CBCP editorial.
It cited a CNN Philippines report of the Duterte camp accusing the LP and Roxas of vote-buying through the BUB.
According to Peter Laviña, spokesman for incoming President Rodrigo Duterte and head of Duterte’s media team, the BUB was used as an official campaign kitty of the Administration.
The same sentiment was also aired earlier by opposition United Nationalist Alliance spokesman Ramon Ilagan, who said “this [BUB] is the biggest pork barrel in election history.”
The Aquino Administration has maintained, though, that the BUB was normal government assistance to local governments.
The CBCP editorial said the clamor for change has grown loudest since the May 9 elections, adding that “serious or not, Rodrigo Duterte has promised to answer that clamor.”