Two vote-buying cases filed before Comelec so far - Garcia

Two formal complaints have been lodged before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) so far in relation to vote buying, according to Commissioner George Erwin Garcia.

MB file photo

He made the statement on Tuesday, April 5, as Koalisyong Novalenyo Kontra Korapsyon and Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan ng Bagbag filed a joint complaint-affidavit against 17 respondents led by Rose Nono Lin who is gunning for a congressional seat in Quezon City's 5th district for 237 counts of vote buying.

"One of the first cases after the activation of the task force," Garcia said.

He stated that they will immediately issue the subpoena so that they can quickly proceed with the preliminary investigation. These initial cases, according to him are the "beginning of everything" and a "warning" to one and all that we have an awakened citizenry with the highest sense of maturity.

"However, presumption of innocence should never be compromised as mandated by the Constitution," he added.

"We will afford due process to all and we will not allow our judgement be swayed by publicity or popularism. Ours will be guided only by the evidence presented and the law applicable based on the given facts," he said.

In the complaint filed by the groups composed of members of the progressive urban poor organizations residents of Novaliches, Quezon City, it was stated that even before the filing of Lin’s Certificate of Candidacy (COC) and beyond March 25, 2022, when the official local campaign period started, "Respondents undertook a concerted and coordinated scheme to buy votes of tens of thousands of Novaleños." "Even now, the vote-buying scheme continues in one of the many headquarters," it further mentioned.

The complainants mentioned that the money being handed over by the respondent were being distributed under the pretense of "ayuda” or “scholarship”.

"The brazenness of their vote-buying scheme is disgusting. And their vote-buying operations have become obvious for probably all Novaleños, so much so that the name “Rose Lin” has become synonymous with a 500-peso bill inside a small cash envelope. People would be seen lining up early in the morning in their gated headquarters, holding “stubs” or “tickets”," the complaint read.

Lin is looking to replace Rep. Alfred Vargas who will no longer be eligible for re-election after serving three-terms.Running against Lin are Vargas’ younger brother, Patrick Michael Vargas and former Rep. Mary Ann Susano.

The Comelec has already formed a task force called "Kontra Bigay" headed by Commissioner Aimee Ferolino which will focus on vote buying and selling.

It will be composed of the Comelec, Department of Justice (DOJ), Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).