An election commissioner said Sunday that vote-buying incidents this year are worse compared than they were in the 2016 elections.
“It looks more widespread than it was in 2016,” said Commission on Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, speaking in Filipino to radio dzBB.
“I don’t know if this is because more people were arrested, but there are more reports of vote buying now.”
Guanzon said the amounts being offered were higher too, ranging from P1,000 to P1,500 per vote.
“Where does this money come from? Since there are no presidential candidates, these are from local candidates,” she said.
No senatorial candidate has been linked to vote buying so far, she said.
Widespread vote buying has desensitized voters to the illegality of the practice, Guanzon said.
“The minds of the voters have been corrupted to seeing that vote buying is normal,” she said.
National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Guillermo Eleazar said more than 80 people have been arrested for vote buying and selling.
They may face one to six years imprisonment, disqualification from holding public office, and disenfranchisement or deprivation of their right to vote.
Former Senator Heherson Alvarez has withdrawn his bid to represent the 4th District of Isabela due to “massive vote buying.”
Alvarez, in a statement, said he could no longer participate in the congressional race since vote buying violated the freedom of people to select their own leaders.
“This political abuse of our cherished freedom is now of wide public knowledge. We must renounce it, denounce it and withdraw our tolerance or our democracy will wither away,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the massive and overwhelming vote buying makes the electoral process a sham. Vote buying is vote killing and is as destructive to our democracy as drugs [are] … to our physical well-being,” Alvarez said.
He said he was grateful for having been endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte, noting that it would have been his “last effort to render public service.”
In Gamu, Isabela, a police SWAT team was called in to calm the situation when supporters of a candidate, Fernando O.Cumigad, tried to effect a citizens arrest of the barangay chairman, George Gatering, over vote buying.
In Romblon, a municipal councilor and his two companions were being sought for vote buying after police seized several envelopes containing cash and sample ballots Friday. With PNA
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