No liability seen in Leni advice on vote buying

Published October 28, 2021, 3:41 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) sees no criminal liability with Vice President Leni Robredo’s comment on vote-buying.


“I think it is not something that should have been said, but in terms of criminal liability, I don’t really see it,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a television interview Thursday, Oct. 28.

On Wednesday, the poll official already expressed his disagreement with Robredo’s remark for voters to accept the money offered by candidates but vote according to their conscience.

Jimenez stressed that vote buying is an election offense regardless of financial situation or noble intentions.

“I disagree with the notion of taking the money and voting according to your conscience,” he said on Twitter.

Jimenez added:”Di dapat ginagawa, at di dapat sina-suggest yan sa mga botante (It shouldn’t be done, and shouldn’t be suggested to our voters),”

When asked regarding the call of senatorial aspirant Larry Gadon for them to probe Robredo for her remarks, Jimenez replied:”To that, I would say, then we would have to probe everyone whoever said dat. And remember it’s not just one person who has said that, multiple candidates have actually said that.”

Meanwhile, Jimenez said the cash distribution activities being done by presidential aspirant and Senator Manny Pacquiao cannot be considered as “vote-buying” yet.

“Under the law, there is nothing we can do about it because it is still not against the law. It is not yet considered vote buying,” he said.

“If they give out money during the campaign period, that will really be considered as vote buying in plain view. But it will have to be proven. It has to go through due process. So we will see the defenses of the candidates,” added Jimenez.

The campaign period for national positions will begin on February 8, 2022.