Netizens told to file vote-buying cases

Published May 10, 2019, 1:11 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Marie Tonette Marticio and Tara Yap

Amid reports of rampant vote-buying in Eastern Visayas, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has appealed to ne­tizens to file complaints of vote-buying instead of posting sup­posed vote-buying incidents on social media.

(Contributed photo / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Contributed photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

Posts circulating online show handbills with names of candidates stapled to banknotes ranging from R20 to R3,000.

Rafael Olaño, Acting Comelec regional director, stressed that complainants and witnesses are needed before the poll body can take action on vote-buying cases.

Olaño said it would be a chal­lenge for Comelec to verify each vote-buying incident posted online.

“We really need to eradicate vote-buying now. It really hap­pens that is why we are imple­menting measures to address it,” he said.

Vote-buying is a form of cheating and is punishable by law, he said.

“We discourage candidates from doing it because if you get caught, you may be disqualified, and you may also be impris­oned,” Olaño said.

Olaño’s sentiment is shared by Roberto Salazar, Comelec’s Iloilo provincial director.

Salazar said Section 261-A of the Omnibus Election Code requires a written complaint and a witness before Comelec can act on a particular case.

He also said vote-buying is “very hard to prove.”

“It’s not politicians who are directly buying votes. We have to link the buyer and the politician,” Salazar told Manila Bulletin.

Police Brig. Gen. John Bu­lalacao, Western Visayas police director, earlier disclosed he has been receiving complaints of vote-buying.

Comelec offices in Iloilo prov­ince are also receiving com­plaints of vote-buying and the dis­tribution of envelopes containing money and sample ballots.