ONLY eight cases of alleged vote-buying were reported to police in Western Visayas amid numerous claims circulating in the mainstream and social media.
These incidents are now under investigation by the Commission on Elections 6 (Comelec-6) and the PNP.
Superintendent Joem Malong, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperson, said not one person was caught in the act of buying votes before and during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on May 14, 2018.
Two of the eight alleged vote-buying incidents were recorded in the towns of Ibajay and Nabas, Aklan.
The rest allegedly happened at Barangay San Lucas, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo; Barangay San Dionisio, San Rafael, Iloilo; Barangay Agmanaphao, Mina, Iloilo; Barangay Malangabang, Concepcion, Iloilo; and Barangay Robles, La Castellana, Negros Occidental.
Atty. Tomas Valera, Comelec-6 assistant regional director, said that a mere complaint would not suffice the filing of a criminal case against a violator as they need evidence such actual money that was given to the voter and sample ballots.
If probable cause is found, the suspect could be charged with violation of the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines.
Under Article XXII, Section 261, vote buying and selling are considered election offenses.
“Any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”
It is also considered an offense if “any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.”
Those found liable could be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years without probation.
“In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to deportation which shall be enforced after the prison term has been served. Any political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than ten thousand pesos, which shall be imposed upon such party after the criminal action has been instituted in which their corresponding officials have been found guilty.”