By Alexandria San Juan
Quezon City 1st District Representative Bingbong Crisologo, who is gunning for the city’s top post, tagged his and his poll watchers’ arrest as “harassment” after they were nabbed in an alleged vote-buying site in one of their headquarters in Barangay Bahay Toro on the eve of elections.
Speaking to media at the Criminal Investigation Detection Unit (CIDU) in Camp Karingal at around 4:30 a.m. on Monday, Crisologo said that they were unlawfully arrested by the officers.
The mayoral bet claimed that he just asked the police what was happening, and why his volunteers were being arrested when he was handcuffed.
“It is my duty to go there. Anong nangyari bakit nire-raid tayo ng pulis? I had to see and secure them as a leader,” he explained.
Crisologo also believed that the vote-buying allegations against him, as well as the police operation, were politically-motivated, an accusation which the QCPD dismissed.
In a press briefing hours after Crisologo was arrested, QCPD director Joselito Esquivel Jr., said that his men conducted legitimate anti-vote buying operation in response to a tip from a concerned citizen.
According to Esquivel, intelligence personnel of the Talipapa Police Station (PS-3) monitored the compound at Agueda Street around 7:30 p.m. while two undercover officers went inside and posed as residents where they actually spotted Crisologo’s volunteers allegedly receiving money.
Operatives immediately accosted a certain Renato Echas, 80, and recovered from him P800 cash and a volunteer card with a photo of Crisologo.
Forty-three other volunteers of Crisologo were also nabbed by the police for alleged vote-buying.
While authorities were about to bring the arrested persons to the station, police said Crisologo arrived and started shouting at the officers, questioning their presence.
The QCPD also claimed that Chief Master Sergeant Luisito Maninang, who led the responding team, was dragged by Crisologo and the house owner Arturo Delos Reyes inside the compound that caused him some injuries.
Maninang and his seven members were also locked up inside the compound, and were prevented by the group of the mayoral bet from going out.
This prompted PS-3 chief Lt. Col. Alex Alberto to respond and subsequently arrest Crisologo and his son/lawyer Edrix, Delos Reyes and the 43 volunteers. Theywere all brought to CIDU for investigation.
“He threatened our policemen that he will sue them and everything, and he crossed the police line kaya he was arrested for obstruction,” Esquivel explained.
“This is a simple case of bullying. Binubully yung mga pulis ko. I congratulate them for standing their ground. We will implement the law without fear,” he added.
Complaints of violation of Section 261 of Omnibus Election Code, particularly vote buying and selling were filed against Crisologo’s volunteers.
Crisologo was charged with obstruction of justice, unjust vexation, disobedience and resisting arrest, indirect assault resulting to physical Injury, and grave coercion.
The group of Crisologo was brought at the Quezon City Hall of Justice for inquest proceedings around 10 a.m. on Monday, or about 12 hours after they were held under custody of QCPD-CIDU.
However, Crisologo belied that he slandered any police officer and defended that he locked them up in the compound because they did not want to introduce themselves.
He also reiterated that all of the persons arrested were his volunteer poll watchers in Barangay Bahay Toro undergoing training at the said headquarters.
“Yung mga nakuha ay training kit for watchers. Yan yung naabutan nila doon. The volunteers are preparing for tomorrow. Wala na kaming watchers, inaresto na nila lahat,” he added.
According to Crisologo, Barangay Bahay Toro is the largest village in the City’s 1st district, his bailiwick, that was prone to vote buying.
Ten candidates are running for the mayoral post in Quezon City, including Crisologo and his strongest rival City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte.
Data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed that Quezon City is the most vote-rich city in Metro Manila with a total of 1,330,118 registered voters expected to cast their ballots for the 2019 national and local midterm elections. #MatalinongBoto2019