May 14 proved that in the Philippines, elections are always dirty. Every election day, streets leading to the polling precincts are littered with discarded sample ballots handed to voters by each candidate’s volunteers or people hired to give them away. No matter that the Commission on Elections had ordered that campaign paraphernalia are not allowed within election premises. But I guess the Comelec exists primarily to be ignored.

sample_ballots.jpgDuring the Election Day coverage of GMA 7, Ivan Mayrina in his report showed how much discarded sample ballots the school janitress had gathered (almost a sackful, and half of the pedicab’s space). It was only two hours since the polling center had opened. Ivan then asked the janitress to make a personal appeal for the candidates to tell their supporters and “volunteers” to stop giving away what obviously was just littering the area. Unfortunately the poor woman didn’t quite catch on and simply muttered some inaudible stuff (well at least we know the whole thing wasn’t rehearsed). Ivan unfazed by the lack of enthusiasm then turned towards a “volunteer” standing right beside them who had a handful of sample ballots. The two of them had a brief but interesting exchange:

Ivan: “Ma’am alam nyo po ba na bawal na mamigay nyan?”

“Volunteer”: “E, nais ko lang naman po makatulong.”

I: “Kahit po bawal?”

“V”: “E nais ko lang nga makatulong.”

I: “May bayad po kayo dyan sa ginagawa nyo?”

“V”: (mumbles inaudible stuff)

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sampleballot_manila4.jpgThis is one of two photos from the PCIJ blog showing children who were hired for a fee between P50 to P200 to distribute sample ballots (See Child Labor on Election Day?). This is not an unusual sight every elections. Children are more convenient to hire because they are not very conscious of the amount (anything of monetary value is probably appreciated) or they can be easily intimidated into keeping silent when payment for their “services” is denied.

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The EcoWaste Coalition is calling to task all the candidates to do their share in post-campaign cleanup. Along with this was a reminder to not burn or simply dump the collected campaign material. Instead, all efforts should be done to reuse or recycle them. The EcoWaste Coalition blog tells more details about the cleanup drive that QC Mayor Sonny Belmonte, Rep. Bingbong Crisologo, and other volunteers participated in last May 15, 2007.