At least 10 members of the campaign team of Cavite Gubernatorial candidate Jonvic Remulla were arrested Saturday on allegations of vote buying even as the Philippine National Police (PNP) went of full alert on Sunday to safeguard the elections next week.
Reports from the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said the 10 people on Remulla’s team were arrested in the act of buying votes in Brgy. Zapota, Bacoor City at about 6 p.m.
Police Col. Lawrence Cajipe, chief of the PNP regional field unit in Calabarzon, said the 10 suspects were arrested after police received a tip from a concerned citizens group.
Police confiscated small brown envelopes containing P200 bills totaling P75,800, cash totaling P83,500, and campaign wrist bands and T-shirts.
Arrested were Teresita Marjes; Irene Morales; Elsie Alano; Jayson Alab; Rex Del Rosario; Jose de Leon; Gregorio Tamio; Michael Omedes; Joselino Villa; and Jowel Sale.
Hours after the arrest, Remulla issued a statement admitting that the people the CIDG had arrested are associated with his campaign team and said they were “in the process of distributing their travel allowances for next weeks training.”
“They were raided and accosted and arrested with no charges,” Remulla said.
But the CIDG reported that appropriate charges under the Omnibus Election Code are being readied against the suspects.
Remulla said they had no intention to buy votes and that the acts of his volunteers were part of daily training activities in preparation for next week’s election.
“We don not need to buy votes. We are comfortable with our standings,” Remulla said.
On Friday, the Comelec said it feared a rise in vote buying, particularly at the local level.
Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez noted that even days before the elections, they have been receiving reports of vote buying using cash, grocery items and many other valuables from candidates to lure voters.
“We believe that you should just say no to the bribe… and just vote according to your conscience,” Jimenez said.
Meanwhile, PNP spokesman Col. Bernard Banac said raising the alert status to its highest degree aimed to get police ready for next week.
“Our policemen will be on standby and monitor and respond to any eventuality,” Banac said in Filipino on radio dzBB.
Earlier, he said the PNP will be deploying more than 160,000 men to safeguard the elections.
At present, Banac said the PNP has not monitored any threats from any groups that might disrupt the conduct of elections.
“But we do not take chances. We are not relaxing. That’s why the PNP went on its highest level of alert,” he said.
Banac said around 8,000 were tapped for election duties in the newly-created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to maintain peace and order before and during the elections.
He said cops were from the Special Weapons and Tactics unit, Regional Mobile Force Battalion, Highway Patrol Group and other support units and standby groups. He said members of the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Armed Forces will also augment the troops.
Banac reminded the public to report to the police any form of cheating this election period.
He said policemen in coordination with the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Commission on Elections are continuously taking down illegal campaign materials.
In Cagayan de Oro City, authorities are investigating if a politician is the real owner of firearms and ammunition stashed inside a house rented by a woman in Lanao del Norte on Friday.
The suspect was identified by the CIDG-10 s Mary Ann Canoy, 36, resident of Barangay Labuay in Maigo town, Lanao del Norte.
CIDG-10 said the suspect is a former overseas Filipino worker although investigators did not provide additional information on her personal background.
Canoy was arrested by a joint team of police and military agents when they found firearms and ammunition hidden under the bed inside the house she was renting.
Confiscated were a shotgun, three M16 rifles, two M1 Garand rifles, six pieces bandolier, a .45-caliber pistol and two clips of ammunition, a holster, and three boxes of assorted ammunition.
Maj. Napoleon Carpio, CIDG-10 deputy regional chief, said the suspect may be working for someone else.
“This woman is being utilized by a higher person,” Carpio said in a phone interview Saturday, adding that Canoy insisted that she has no knowledge of the firearms.
If it turns out that a politician may be the actual owner of the firearms confiscated from Canoy, Carpio said it will bolster CIDG-10’s suspicion that loose firearms are being used by goons hired by political candidates to intimidate or harass opponents and their supporters.
Also on Sunday, GMA News reported that some of the official ballots delivered to Manila City Hall past 12 a.m. on Sunday had seals that were noticeably broken.
One of the 12 plastic seals with a barcode that was tied to the locks of the trucks was also broken, GMA News reported. With PNAREAD: 160k cops fan out for election dutyREAD: PNP keeps an eye on 19 'hot spots'
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