By Jel Santos
The eight barangay officials, and 52 residents of Barangay San Isidro, who were arrested by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) for alleged vote-buying, were ordered released by the Makati City Prosecutors’ Office on Monday.
They were apprehended last Saturday by members of NCRPO inside the barangay hall at around 10 p.m.
“The order came after evidence was presented disproving the false and inaccurate statements made by the NCRPO against my clients. In fact, there was no private complainant who appeared in the inquest proceedings,” lawyer Jose Solis, counsel of the accused, said.
Despite the claims of the NCRPO, he said that the eight barangay officials and 52 individuals were not engaged in a vote-buying activity.
“At the time the NCRPO arrived at the San Isidro barangay hall, there were no people inside except for the barangay officials. The 52 other individuals arrested by the NCRPO, among them senior citizens aged 61-70, were all outside the barangay hall,” Solis explained.
The counsel of the accused reiterated that there was no illegal activity that can justify the action of NCRPO members, who forcibly opened the locked doors and office drawers inside the barangay hall.
“Again, contrary to the claims of the NCRPO, the alleged items mentioned in the report were not found in one room. The NCRPO found these items in several rooms,” he said.
According to Solis, what NCRPO did as highly suspicious” for making it appear that seized items were related to one another “in the commission of an imaginary crime.”
“Again, contrary to the claims of the NCRPO, the presence of the illegally seized items in the barangay hall was justified,” he said.
The lawyer, meanwhile, clarified that the watchers list was intended to confirm if those listed were actual residents of the barangay.
“And contrary to the claims of the NCRPO, the money was found inside a locked drawer that was forcibly opened by the police. The money was not in plain and full view. Moreover, the money in this locked drawer was intended for legitimate and official purposes, among them, the payment of the barangay payroll due on the 15th. They are barangay funds, and not money for alleged vote buying,” Solis added.
Ulat ng Bayan, he said, is an official yearly publication of the city government. “This was printed in 2018 and distributed to all barangay halls. This is a project that started even before the present administration. “
“But the most important exculpatory evidence is the video inside the barangay hall, as well as those taken by the NCRPO itself. These videos clearly show that there was no vote buying taking place,” he said.