By Martin Sadongdong
On the eve of the midterm elections, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) urged candidates and voters in Metro Manila Sunday to cooperate with authorities for a peaceful, orderly and honest conduct of polls.
This, after Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, NCRPO director, bared the arrest of at least 77 alleged vote-buyers and sellers in separate operations in Makati and Muntinlupa cities on Saturday.
The latest case of vote-buying and selling was noted in Makati City where at least 60 suspects, including three village officials, were apprehended by the NCRPO-Regional Special Operations Unit (RSOU) inside the barangay hall of Brgy. San Isidro around 10:45 p.m.
Arrested for alleged vote-buying were Karen May Matibag, treasurer of Brgy. San Isidro; Medlyn Joy Ong, secretary; Marie Antoinette Capistrano, administrator; Wenifredo Ong, Mario Louis Siriban, Adrian Chiapoco, John Brian Matibag and Ma. Liberty Dacullo.
Police also nabbed 52 registered voters in the area who allegedly accepted bribe money from the eight suspected vote-buyers.
Eleazar said the RSOU received a report from a concerned citizen that the suspects were engaging in vote-buying and selling inside the barangay hall.
The RSOU then proceeded to the area in coordination with the Southern Police District (SPD) District Special Operations Unit and Makati City Police Station where the suspects were “caught in the act of vote-buying and selling,” Eleazar said.
“Itong mga botante akala nila ayos lang iyon. Very daring itong nangyari sa barangay hall. Pinatay ang ilaw, sinarhan ang pinto at parang akala mo pasweldo lang na nakapila ang nangyayari. Talagang garapalan (The voters thought it was okay. What happened in the baranggay hall was very daring. They turned off the lights, closed the doors and it’s as if they were just handing out salary from voters who were lined up. What a blatant display of abuse of power),” Eleazar told the Manila Bulletin.
Police confiscated from the suspects 820 pieces of P500 bills which amount to P410,000; 19 assorted IDs; 10 different units of cellular phones; a list of voters with their addresses and precinct numbers; and two boxes of leaflets of a mayoral candidate.
Earlier that day, the NCRPO-RSOU also collared 17 suspected vote-buyers and sellers inside Minerva Compound along the National Road in Barangay Putatan, Muntinlupa City around 11 a.m.
Eleazar identified the suspected vote-buyers as Dominador Bueno, 63; Luis Aragana Jr., 64; Alma Comora, 42; Genevebe Tabason, 42; and Leilani Datinguinoo, 46.
Police arrested 12 registered voters who are all residents of Barangay Putatan for alleged vote-selling.
The operation also stemmed from an anonymous tip of a concerned citizen to the police, Eleazar noted.
Police confiscated from the suspects 17 pieces of envelopes each containing P500; 122 pieces of envelopes each containing P300; a list of voters with their addresses and precinct numbers; sample ballots; and details of cash distribution.
“May this serve as a warning to all other candidates and supporters na huwag naman ganitong bastusan ang dating na nangyayari sa atin (let us not spoil the elections),” Eleazar said.
Aside from the 77 arrested suspects in Makati and Munitnlupa, the police have also arrested six suspected vote-buyers in Quezon City and another one in Malabon City earlier this week.
Eleazar said he gave a warning to all police commanders in the metro to strictly monitor reports of vote-buying and selling.
“Aside from the task group from the PNP national headquarters, I gave directive sa lahat ng chiefs of police na magmonitor kasi napakaraming reports eh. Check lang nila and operate lang. Act on it (Aside from the task group from the PNP national headquarters, I gave directive to all chiefs of police to monitor because we are receiving lots of reports. They should check on it and operate. Act on it),” he stressed.
Earlier, Police General Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, had ordered the creation of 105 units of Task Group Kontra Bigay across the country to run after vote-buyers and sellers.
Data from the PNP-National Election Monitoring Action Center (NEMAC) said 147 suspected vote-buyers and sellers have already been apprehended nationwide from the start of the election period on January 13 to 12 a.m. Sunday. #MatalinongBoto2019