Addressing online vote-buying: Comelec no concrete agreements yet with e-wallets

Published February 8, 2022, 7:18 PM

by Jel Santos

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday, Feb. 8, said it has not yet forged any concrete agreements with e-money transfer companies to track down vote-buying activities.


However, Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said the poll body is “trying to get something done” on this matter.

“Wala pa tayong (We still have no) concrete agreements with different wallets but we’re trying to get something done,” Jimenez said during an online press briefing.

The problem with monitoring e-money transfers, according to Jimenez, is that “it’s a little difficult to work around the fact that there is almost no proof of wrongdoing.”

“How can you prove that your particular use of an e-wallet is for criminal purposes,” he added.

In addition, Jimenez noted that giving money on a street corner is a different scenario from e-payment.

“It’s a little trickier so the problem there is to first define the criminal activity,” the poll body’s spokesperson said.

“When you are talking about e-payment systems, that’s still very complicated. We’re still working on it,” he ended.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of e-money transfer has been very rampant. Some local governments even used e-money transfer to distribute “ayuda(financial assistance)” as it is the safest and fastest way to do so amid the pandemic.

Jimenez said, “the definition of vote-buying actually says simply that is the exchange of value for the promise of a vote.”

“Traditionally, vote-buying is considered to be an Election Day activity, or if not Election Day itself, then definitely in close proximity to the day of elections,” he said.

“But please remember that the definition of vote-buying does not specifically state that it only happens… days before elections.”

The poll body spokesperson said that if vote-buying is done during the election period, “then it is conceivably a possible vote-buying offense.”