[email protected] Party-list Rep. Anthony Golez wants to criminalize both the acts of vote-buying and vote-selling, which is believed to be a common activity during every election season.
The congressman filed House Bill (HB) 1709, titled, “An Act Defining and Declaring Vote-Buying as a Heinous Crime, Prescribing Penalties Therefor, and for Other Purposes,” otherwise known as the “Vote-Buying is a Heinous Crime Act”.
Under Golez’s measure, politicians who offer “money or anything of value, including the promise of employment in any office, and granting of a public or private contract, in exchange for votes during elections” shall face imprisonment ranging from 20 to 40 years, a fine of not less than P5 million, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Solicitors or members of political parties who buy votes on behalf of their candidate of choice face similar penalties: prison sentences of 12 to 20 years, and fines of not less than P3-million.
Meanwhile, voters caught selling their votes may be imprisoned for one to six years, and may face fines of not less than P100,000.
The measure also adds that the prosecution of vote buying offenses would be classified as urgent and would take precedence over other cases within a respective court.
“It is about time for the people to stop turning a blind eye to vote buying. Vote buying during elections should be rejected with extreme repugnance. The current law and penalty against vote-buying is clearly not enough to deter vote-buying,” Golez said in his explanatory note.
“The passage of a special penal law declaring vote-buying as a heinous crime will send a strong message to the electorate, and the would-be elected officials, that Filipinos have had enough of vote-buying during elections,” he concluded.