INCIDENTS of massive vote-buying before and during the national and local elections last Monday is an eye-opener that the Philippine National Police needs all the help it can get from all government agencies and most importantly the general public in stopping the wanton violation of the Omnibus Election Code, officials told the Journal Group yesterday.
“We need to have a whole-of-government approach to stop this illegal practice. In particular, we don’t need reluctant officials from the Commission on Elections to effectively carry out the anti-vote-buying and anti-vote-selling campaign,” said a police regional director on condition of anonymity. Other Journal Group sources said the Comelec issued the order for the PNP to launch a crackdown on vote-buying and vote-selling only last Friday or three days before Election Day. Every election period, it is widely believed that all candidates combined spend tens of billions of pesos to buy votes in the country.
The official said that obviously, candidates from all political sides are involved in the poll malpractice but those who were defeated despite paying voters are the ones who are crying foul and claiming they have been cheated.
“We got reports that this candidate paid P1,000 for each of his voters but his rival defeated him after paying each voter P1,500 and now he is going to the press to cry he was cheated when both he and his opponent tried to cheat each other. The thing here is that if we have to stop this malpractice, we have to conduct the campaign a week before the actual polls and in particular, go after all distribution hubs of money being paid to the voters,” he said.
PNP agents across the country seized nearly P12.2 million in different bills which were all used to either buy or sell votes on the eve of election and right on the actual day of the national and local polls, PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernard M. Banac said.
According to the PNP spokesman, there were a total of 225 vote-buying incidents reported to different PNP units nationwide up to last Wednesday which triggered operations that led in the arrest of 356 persons and the rescue of eight minors.
Eighty-five others were not accosted during those operations and are still being hunted as of press time.
The exact amount of cash confiscated in those operations was P12,208,958, Banac said.
Banac said out of the 356 suspects accosted and are now facing charges for violation of the Omnibus Election Code, the biggest was made by the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar with 136 followed by 36 from the BARMM Police Regional Office under Brig. Gen. Graciano J. Mijares; 32 by the Police Regional Office 4-A headed by Brig. Gen. Edward E. Carranza; 22 by the PRO5 headed by Brig. Gen. Arnel B. Escobal; and 26 by the PRO6 headed by Brig. Gen. John C. Bulalacao..
Of the 85 who were not accosted, 2 are from Region 1; 23 from Region 3; 4 from Region 4-A; 7 from Region 4-B; 6 from Region 8; 1 from Region 12; 2 from Region 13; 36 from Cordillera region; and 4 from BARRM.
Banac said of the 8 minors rescued, 4 are from Region 5; 3 from Region 6; and 1 from NCR.
The PRO13 headed by Brig. Gen. Gilbert DC Cruz made the largest haul of cash used to buy votes with P7,978,100 followed by the PRO10 which was formerly under Brig. Gen. Timoteo G. Pacleb with P1,125,718.00.
On Tuesday, PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said they investigated massive vote-buying activities but recorded a great reduction in election-related violent incidents in last Monday’s national and local elections and honestly would like to fully address those matters in the 2022 presidential polls.
“We thank the public for actively reporting to us incidents of vote-buying or selling which gained for the PNP a positive public response on our effort against this illegal act,” he added.
The PNP chief credited the special task force against vote-buying created by Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Ano in their significant accomplishments against ‘buying and...
....selling’ of votes.
He said there are several reasons why there were massive vote-buying on Monday. One of them is that candidates apparently have found out that they can’t cheat anymore in the counting of votes now that the Comelec has been using the ‘incorruptible’ Voter’s Counting Machines in their automated election. That up to now, no candidate has been suspended or jailed for vote-buying. “It’s always the seller or buyers of votes. It would really be very hard to prove that a candidate is engage in vote-buying,” he said.
The PNP chief said vote-buying may even rise during the 2020 presidential, national and local elections. “Ang sabi nga ng Pangulong Duterte, vote-buying has become a culture. Sana maputol na ito, hindi ito tama. This is against the law and we need voter’s education,” he emphasized.
Gen. Albayalde also asked concerned chiefs of police to explain the very few vote-buying-related arrests in their areas despite complaints which were forwarded to the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame.