Rise in vote-buying, decrease in ERIs noted

PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday 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 the issue in the 2022 presidential polls.

Gen. Albayalde said a total of 332 vote-buying incidents were recorded with 297 persons arrested and three minors rescued. “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 Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año for their significant accomplishments against buying and selling of votes.

He said there are several reasons why there was 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 is using the “incorruptible” Vote  Counting Machines in their automated election.

Second is that up to now, no candidate has been suspended or jailed for vote-buying. “It’s always the seller or buyer of votes. It would really be very hard to prove that a candidate is engaged in vote-buying,” he said.

The PNP chief said that vote-buying may even get worse during the 2022 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 said that a big factor in the reduced election-related incidents or ERIs is the major preparations they made since last year. “We made sure that there will be enhanced risk reduction through a massive campaign against partisan armed groups, loose firearms and other threats to the polls. These led to the massive decrease in ERIs,” he explained.

“In fact, we seized more than 5,000 firearms from gun ban offenders and I think we will improve more by 2022. As they say, there’s always room for improvement and we have to thank President Duterte for his very big support to our organization particularly when it comes to our move, shoot and communicate capabilities,” the PNP chief said.

In his post-election message to his men and the country, Gen. Albayalde called on all losing candidates to humbly accept their defeat and respect the outcome of the election and the voters’ decision.

“Once again, the Filipino people have spoken through their right to vote during the Midterm National and Local Elections on May 13. This was a national endeavor that we prepared hard for to ensure that our countrymen may go to the polls in peace and render their share in the realization of a better and brighter future for our nation.”