Panelo tells poll watchdogs to file case against Bong Go for alleged vote buying

Published March 19, 2019, 7:22 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

Malacañang has challenged two poll watchdogs alleging the involvement of senatorial candidate Christoper Go in vote-buying to file a case against him.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

“Why don’t they file if that is what they believe in?” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

Panelo, however, acknowledged that the vote-buying allegation against Go would be difficult to prove under the country’s law especially since the financial aid was given to fire victims. He also noted that it was not even Go who supposedly gave the cash aid to the victims.

“I looked at the provision, baka mahirapan eh. Kasi what it says there is ‘that will induce the voter to be influenced by what he give.’ Eh mukhang iba ang situation dito kay Bong Go sapagka’t these are donations and they are fire victims [I looked at the provision; it may be difficult to prove because what it says there is ‘That will induce the voter to be influenced by what he give.’ It looks like the situation of Bong Go is different because these are donations and they are fire victims],” he said.

“Pangalawa [Second], I read also na it was not even him who gave the so-called ‘cash donation.’ Mahirapan sila doon [It will be hard for them to prove it],” he added.

Panelo also stood firmly behind the President’s former assistant, believing he would not commit any election offense.

“Bong Go is a responsible person, and he has his own, suppose, lawyers surrounding him. And I don’t think Bong Go will be violating any election offense,” he said.

The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) and Kontra Daya earlier reportedly called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to investigate reports that the camp of Go gave cash donations to fire victims in Makati City. The two groups claimed that Go should be probed for alleged vote-buying during the campaign period.

Meantime, Panelo said he was not surprised that Go has jumped to third place in the latest Pulse Asia survey of preferred senatorial candidates. He said public awareness about Go was “very high” especially since he has been “very visible” in the media.

“You always see him when you see the President he is there, either he is beside him, he is talking to him or at the background. In all events, he is always there. So the awareness is very high,” he said.