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Massive vote-buying seen

Monsod: Govt funds will circulate  THE former chairman of the Commission on Elections, Christian Monsod, on Sunday warned that the midterm elections today will be marred by massive vote- buying using government funds to influence the results of the polls since widespread cheating is now a thing of the past due to automation. “Politicians across the board or from the administration and opposition would engage in massive vote buying using government funds in order to win,” Monsod told the Manila Standard. Monsod also ruled out the possibility of a 12-0 sweep in the senatorial races for the administration Team Pnoy. “To achieve a12-0 sweep, there must be massive cheating with the government engaging in a conspiracy with the Comelec, the military, police, and the ground forces.” Monsod said. He said even in the 2010 presidential elections under the Arroyo administration, no massive cheating was reported. The reduction in cheating, however, would drive politicians to resort to vote buying instead, Monsod said. “The massive vote buying using government money is done across-the-board. For those who are new in politics, they borrow money on their first try. Those who are already seeking reelection have been able to save up,” Monsod said. Monsod said vote buying remains a problem because of the desire of influential families to maintain political dynasties and warlordism. He said the big business may throw in some money for a few senatorial candidates but the amount would not significant enough to change the results of the elections. “So the bulk of the money that will circulate today will be government funds,” Monsod said. While there were reports of some precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines malfunctioning, a majority of the vote-counting machines work, Monsod said. “It is unfortunate that the expected safeguards such as the PCOS source code were not put in place but this would hardly change the results of the elections,” Monsod said. Monsod also allayed fears that brownouts in Mindanao and some parts of Luzon would allow an “automated fraud.” “Like I said, massive fraud can be done only when there is a widespread conspiracy, led by the government, but brownouts would not affect the operations of the PCOS machines because these can run on batteries,” Monsod said. He said he sees the elections today to be “generally peaceful” even as police reported 60 dead in poll-related violence since the campaign began in February. The National Movement for Free Elections, meanwhile, reported 20 vote buying cases. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez on Sunday defended the poll body’s aborted “money ban,” which sought to limit daily withdrawals to P100,000 and the possession of more than P500,000 in cash over a six-day period before the elections to discourage vote buying. The Supreme Court prevented the Comelec from imposing the ban after the banking industry filed a petition against it, arguing that it was unconstitutional and violated bank secrecy laws. But Jiminez said more candidates would turn to vote buying as poll automation made cheating difficult. Among the cheating methods that poll automation eradicated was the practice of “dagdag-bawas” or vote shaving and padding, Jimenez said. “In 2010, we already said that because dagdag-bawas is no longer feasible, people will turn to buying votes. That is practically the only ‘peaceful’ option, because the other option aside from vote buying is intimidation,” Jimenez told ANC’s Dateline Philippines. “We did see that in 2010, and we are seeing it now, which is why we came out with the ill-starred resolution on the money ban. The intent was very clear —we want to do something to curb vote-buying. Even now we receive pictures of money stapled with slips of paper showing names of candidates,” he added. Jimenez also encouraged people who witness and capture on video instances of vote-buying to come forward so cases against cheating candidates will prosper. “To those sending us pictures, we have been asking them to come forward with their names. If they want to be anonymous, it’s fine. But for now we really need witnesses to keep this going. We are dedicated to making sure that this particular part of election administration is carried out completely,” Jimenez said. “If you are to take a video, you can send it to us, and if you back up the video with your own affidavit, then you have a case right there. The case preparation time is shortened immensely,” he added.
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