Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday warned narco-politics has arrived in Olongapo City amid reports of rampant vote-buying by certain incumbent officials.
In a press conference, Gordon said supporters of Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun and Mayor Rolen Paulino were reportedly caught overseeing the vote-buying operations.
“Their modus operandi is they invite people to certain houses and locations, make them line up outside, counter-check these peoples’ names against the voters’ list, and, once confirmed as voters, give them P1,000 each and identification cards,” he said.
While the senator acknowledged that the illegal practice is common during elections across the country, what makes the incidents in Olongapo City more reprehensible is the possibility that the money came from politicians with links to the narcotics trade.
“They are buying votes because they are desperate. They are losing the elections. They have done this before and they are doing it now,” he said.
“It is very clear that all these money come from drugs. Not only is Rep. Khonghun violating the Omnibus Election Code, he is also manifesting the power of drug money in shaping and killing our democracy,” he added.
Gordon said President Rodrigo Duterte himself named Khonghun as among the narco-politicians in his drug list. Paulino, on the other hand, is facing graft an corruption charges.
“Our people have taken affidavits from witnesses who themselves have received P1,000 from the people of Khonghun and Paulino as well as those who saw people who were given P1,000 each and instructed to ‘vote straight’ for the Khonghun-Paulino ticket,” he said.
“We also received information about a doctor who could not even enter his house yesterday because so many people were lining up outside his house to get money. Upon inquiries, it was discovered that the house were there was a queue belonged to Charles Padrigo, a contractor and a known supporter of Congressman Khonghun, Mayor Paulino, and their associates,” Gordon added.
Gordon said the vote-buying operations happened in Old Cabalan, Barretto, East Tapinac, Gordon Heights, Mabayuan, New Kalalake, Sta. Rita, andWest Bajac-Bajac.
“The Khonghuns are fighting a very costly battle against the Magsaysay clan, who is fielding Mitos for Congress. On the other hand, Rolen Paulino, who withdrew his candidacy for mayor because of his graft and corruption cases, substituted his son as a candidate for mayor after he was charged with graft and corruption by the Ombudsman,” he added.
“Do not take their money. It is drug money. We will not let our city and the province be filled with drugs,” he said.