Vote-buying fueling mobile phone sales? Comelec spox says not really

Published May 15, 2022, 5:42 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The sudden increase in mobile phone sales in at least three municipalities in Surigao del Sur cannot be directly attributed to incidents of vote-buying, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disclosed Sunday, May 15.

Director John Rex Laudiangco, Comelec acting spokesperson. (Photo by MARTIN A. SADONGDONG / MANILA BULLETIN)

Comelec acting spokesperson Director John Rex Laudiangco said the reported escalation of mobile phone purchases in the towns of Tagbina, Barobo, and Lianga “does not automatically mean anomalies or crime.”

“Kung ganyan po kasi na mayroon pong pagbabawal sa escalation ng purchases, dapat krimen (If there are prohibition on the escalation of purchases, then it should be a crime). But it is not [a] crime,” Laudiangco said.

According to reports, some stores in Surigao del Sur are running out of stock of mobile phones as residents trooped to buy such items several days after the May 9 elections.

Some of the buyers allegedly admitted to benefitting from vote buying perpetrated by candidates for congressional and provincial posts.

Laudiangco said they have coordinated with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to investigate the incident.

“In cases like these, they will be the ones to give a feedback to us kung meron silang nadetect na anomaly (if they detected an anomaly),” he said.

The cyberwatch divisions of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have also yet to report incidents of vote-buying in Surigao del Sur, according to Laudiangco.

“Until today, we have not received any report coming from them detecting suspicious or anomalous activities in these areas,” he stated.