5 May 2016, 10:30 pm – FOUR days before the national elections, presidential aspirant
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago called on Thomasians to reject vote-buying.

“I call on the youth to do something about this anomaly
(vote-buying). It is a duty today to think about tomorrow. It is our duty to
decide this country’s fate. Tayo ang may hawak ng kapangyarihan bakit natin
ibebenta sa kanila?” Santiago said in a forum Thursday at the UST Seminary Gym.

The senator emphasized the importance of keeping the right to
suffrage sacred. “The most important problem is vote-buying. These candidates
buy and the uneducated masses are willing to sell their votes. Bibilhin mo na
lang sila. This is said to have recently evolved to mass vote-buying,” she

Aquino’s failure

Santiago also lashed out at outgoing President Benigno Aquino
III for failing to put up measures to eradicate corruption.

“The righteous path that this administration has campaigned on
turned out to be the ultimate frustration of the Filipino people. Pinangakuan
tayo ng tuwid na daan. Daang matuwid? E papunta nga sa UST sobrang traffic na.
The administration has failed to implement many of the reforms necessary to
curb corruption. These include the Freedom of Information Bill and the
Anti-Premature Campaigning Law,” she said.

Laws are irrelevant if the people in power are tainted with
vested interests, she argued.

“Ang dami nating batas na hindi makakairal dahil ‘yung mga
nakaluklok ngayon sa panunungkulan puro na sila personal interests.
Anti-corruption [sinasabi nila]. Sila ang corruption. Kaya anti tayo sa kanila.
The administration party failed to deliver its promises. We cannot hold it
accountable because there is no real political party,” Santiago, who leads the
People’s Reform Party, said.

Survey results

Santiago said she considered topping surveys and mock elections
in UST to be among her “golden moments.”

Santiago topped the Varsitarian’s
two pre-election polls, getting 66 percent in the October-December survey and
38.42 percent in the February-April survey.

An online survey conducted by the Research Center for Culture,
Education and Social Issues as part of the Thomasian Initiatives for Good
Election Results 2016 project also showed that Santiago was “the most competent
presidential [candidate] in the country” for Thomasians.

The Iloilo native questioned the credibility of commercial
surveys, saying that despite her low rank in such surveys, she was the top
choice in various universities in the country such as the University of the
Philippines (Diliman, Baguio, Cebu, Los Baños, and Manila campuses), De La
Salle University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Colegio de San
Juan de Letran, and UST, among others.

This election marks Santiago’s third attempt at the presidency,
following her presidential bids in 1992 and 1998, where she was defeated by
Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada respectively.

The forum, titled “The Filipino Youth Vision: The Presidential
and Vice Presidential Forum Series for the New Philippines 2021,” was organized
by Aktiboto, a student-initiated voter education campaign for the Filipino
youth. Dayanara T. Cudal and Monica M. Hernandez


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