The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have forged a partnership to fight vote buying and vote selling not only in the coming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on October 30, but also in future electoral exercises.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) against “Kontra Bigay”, an institutional campaign against vote-buying and vote-selling.
“We are making history,” Remulla declared, after the signing of the MOA at the DOJ Main Office in Manila.
“We are strengthening the foundation of our democracy. We are sending a clear message to every Filipino on the importance and sanctity that our votes should be protected,” he said.
Meanwhile, at least 66 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) candidates are facing disqualification cases for premature campaigning while the Comelec has already issued nearly 2,000 show-cause orders to BSKE candidates.
Poll chairman Garcia said the Comelec has issued show cause orders to some 1,955 candidates of the BSKE because of early and premature campaigning, but only 300 candidates have answered.
In a radio interview, Garcia warned BSKE candidates who received show cause orders to immediately answer the complaints or face disqualification.
He also said at least 104 complaints were dismissed, as they had no factual basis.
The Justice Secretary stressed that the purpose of the campaign is to “fight the widespread problem of vote buying and vote selling that destroy the integrity of the electoral process.”
Under this MOA, we will together stand, talk, and help each other),” he said.
Remulla stressed that the aim of this MOA is to ensure that those who commit election offenses would be prosecuted.
“Combining the investigatory prowess of the Comelec and the prosecutorial power of the DOJ we aim to ensure those who committed election offenses shall face the full force of the law,” he vowed.
For his part, Chairman Garcia said “the only way to weed out and fight this evil of what we call vote buying and vote selling is to nip the bud so to speak and the only way to do that is to prosecute and prosecute with firmness.”
“If we have on our side the prosecutorial arm of the government led by the National Prosecution Service and the other agencies of the DOJ, we can ensure that no one will fear, and there will be focus and serious campaign against this new cancer of our democracy,” Garcia stressed.
With the BSKE to be held on Oct. 30, Garcia said he expected vote buying will take place 10 days before and on the day of the elections.
The Comelec chairman pointed out that once this campaign against vote buying becomes a success, it will be replicated in 2025 elections and the succeeding polls.