MANILA, Philippines ? Vote buying.
It happened everywhere. And it marked the conduct of the elections in these places that could best be described in three words?chaos, confusion, disorder.
In Pampanga, reelectionist Gov. Mark Lapid reported alleged vote-buying in Floridablanca, Sta. Rita, San Simon and Magalang towns, and the City of San Fernando.
The wife of a barangay captain was reported to have also distributed five kg of rice and P500 in Alasas, also in San Fernando.
Power outages were reported in Guagua and Sasmuan.
The Lapid camp traced all these to the camp of his rival, Board Member Lilia Pineda and some candidates in her slate.
Interviewed before casting her vote at the Rizal Elementary School in Barangay Concepcion in Lubao, Pineda laughed off the allegations.
?We did not buy votes,? she said.
Officials of the Pampanga Electric Cooperative blamed the National Transmission Corp. (Transco) for the brownouts, citing ?some problems? in the transmission lines.
Most voters complained of difficulty in finding their names in voters? lists.
?It looked like there was a rumble of names. I took 30 minutes to find my name,? said Angelito Manuel of Concepcion, Lubao.
In Bacolor, ?flying voters? were herded to Bacolor at 9 a.m. They were reportedly taken from various resettlement sites.
Barricade in Pampanga
Sunday night in Pampanga was filled with tension.
The seven-hour standoff between supporters of Sto. Tomas Mayor Lucas Arceo and mayoral candidate Gloria Ronquillo ended at past 9 p.m. when lawyer Temie Lambino, Commission on Elections provincial supervisor, told police in the City of San Fernando to escort Arceo out of his compound.
Ronquillo?s supporters, led by her husband and former Mayor Romeo Ronquillo, barricaded the compound after they monitored six jeeps of elderly people.
Romeo Ronquillo said Arceo brought them there to give them money and copies of sample ballots.
Willy Dayrit, vice chair of the Senior Citizens Federation in Sto. Tomas, denied receiving cash.
Lambino said he found no reason for Arceo to be held inside his compound.
In Bulacan, gubernatorial candidate Roberto Pagdanganan disputed reports in flyers and leaflets that circulated in the province yesterday that he had withdrawn from the race and had accepted a supposed offer of President Macapagal-Arroyo to become an ambassador to Russia.
Missing names, procedures
In Benguet, missing names became the biggest headache of voters in the elections. This time, though, the confusion was aggravated by disputes over election procedures.
Protests over the placement of voter secrecy folders were aired.
Others argued over who should place ballots in the ballot box?the chair of the BEI or the voter.
Gregorio Taag, coordinator of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in La Trinidad, said the group?s field volunteers reported that many voters decided to go home since they could not find their names.
Meanwhile, traffic on Halsema Highway was smooth as the province?s farmers and truckers from Metro Manila hurried their deliveries on Saturday and Sunday in time for the elections.
In Pangasinan, reports of missing names in the voters? lists and vote-buying marred the conduct of elections.
Some voters in Dagupan City were irked over the presence of the names of their dead relatives in the lists.
Reports gathered by the Inquirer showed vote-buying was rampant.
Some candidates offered up to P1,500 per voter.
A resident said she could start a sari-sari store with all the grocery items she had received from politicians during the campaign period.
Dagupan Vice Mayor Alvin Fernandez went on radio to deny reports that his father, former Immigration Commissioner Alipio Fernandez Jr., had withdrawn from the mayoral race.
Text messages saying the elder Fernandez was supposedly sick circulated in the city on Monday.
Campaign materials, like sample ballots, pocket calendars and fans, littered school yards in the province. Some people, however, collected them to sell at junk shops for P5 a kilogram.
In Urdaneta City, a candidate for vice mayor continued luring voters on Monday by giving them snacks.
In Ilocos Norte, the camps of Board Member Michael Keon and former Gov. Rodolfo Fariñas, both candidates for governor, traded charges of election cheating as voters trooped to the various precincts in Ilocos Norte.
In Isabela, some voters complained of missing names and the inclusion of the dead in the list, among others.
In Cagayan, reelectionist Gov. Edgar Lara asked Comelec officials to check the harassment of poll watchers in Alcala and Gattaran towns.
In Zambales, PPCRV volunteers said in the villages of Lipay Dingin Panibuatan and Zone 5, polling precincts closed as early as 1:45 p.m. as few voters cast their votes.
In Mt. Province, lawyer Dennis Dimalnat, Comelec provincial director, said they encountered problems in relaying information to their people in the field due to the poor signal of telecommunications providers in the towns of Besao, Barlig and Natonin.
Dimalnat said he received complaints from some residents who wanted their board of election inspectors replaced because of perceived bias. He said he also received reports of vote buying.
Photographers disrupted voting for 30 minutes at a local school when they scrambled to take shots of Nicolas Cawed, a Burnham Park official, who arrived barefoot, wearing a woven G-string and a Bontoc headdress.
More Igorot candidates are seeking elective posts in Baguio and the fight is often between the original Ibaloi families of the city and politicians who hail from other parts of the Cordillera.
Some of their supporters voted wearing woven native vests.
It was harder to gauge the political colors of Philippine Military Academy soldiers, who voted on Tuesday at the Fort del Pilar High School.
Some of these soldiers told the Inquirer that they supported candidates who came from the military, including detained Lt. Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV and former Sen. Gregorio Honasan, both PMA graduates.
In Legazpi City, opposing parties have been complaining of vote-buying since Friday.
The distribution of money enclosed in folded and stapled sample ballots usually occurred in the houses of barangay officials.
On Sunday night, most villagers were still unusually awake although it was almost midnight as they waited for money from candidates.
A Church reminder written on streamers hanging at the gates of parishes, saying ?Kristyano ako, dai mapabakal nin boto (I am a Christian, my vote is not for sale)? was ignored.
A resident of Barangay San Roque, speaking on condition of anonymity, said votes could be bought from P100 to P700.
She said the amounts given by the barangay officials and leaders of the candidates were smaller than the original amounts given by the candidates.
In Catanduanes, the rates were reported to be as high as P1,500.
Tricycle drivers in Legazpi also found sure income on Election Day as they were hired by politicians to ferry voters to and from polling places.
A poll watcher of a mayoral candidate escaped an abduction in Sto. Domingo at 11:30 a.m.
Erwin Gregorio, a poll watcher of mayoral candidate Herbie Aguas, reported that unidentified men tried to force him into a Honda Civic car.
The abductors did not succeed when some bystanders came, forcing the suspects to flee.
In San Jacinto, Masbate, municipal councilor and reelectionist Lito Real died of a heart attack yesterday morning.
In Paluan, Occidental Mindoro, truckloads of Mangyan voters, identified by their name tags and precinct numbers, were ferried to polling places.
Tension was high when the lawyer of incumbent Paluan Mayor Abe Pangilinan twice confronted media persons from the Imbestigador of GMA 7, accusing them of disturbing the ?peaceful elections.?
Pangilinan's lawyer also confronted Margarita Tamunda, from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Manila, who told the Inquirer that she was shocked to see how Mangyans were being manipulated by candidates as they were brought to a poblacion school in groups and with Tagalog-speaking people telling them what to do.
In Palawan, the usual problem was missing names in the list of voters.
In Barangay Sulib, Pangil town in Laguna, volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting had the extra poll watchers of a candidate expelled from a precinct.
There were four watchers instead of just one allowed by the Comelec.
In Calamba City, the brother-in-law of a Calamba City mayoral candidate was arrested on Monday for going near the polling precincts with a gun, police said.
Police said barangay officials had seen Eleno Tercero near the polling precincts with his .45-cal. pistol since 11 a.m.
Reports of massive vote buying and other irregularities marred elections in Quezon.
In Lipa City in Batangas, the campaign period for local candidates might have lapsed Saturday midnight, but hundreds of election volunteers in this city continued to give away election materials, ranging from sample ballots to flyers and leaflets.
In Cavite, despite their political differences, reelectionist Gov. Erineo ?Ayong? Maliksi said he voted for his erstwhile political ally, reelectionist opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is also his townmate.
More vote buying
Vote buying was also rampant in Iloilo and Negros Occidental.
Election watch groups were swamped with SMS messages and calls regarding vote buying, blamed on both administration and opposition camps, said Msgr. Meliton Oso, coordinator of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in Iloilo.
The prices ranged from P50 to P500.
In Iloilo City, the designation of a new election officer to head the board of canvassers (BOC) and the appointment of new city prosecutor has raised fears of massive cheating.
Liberal Party congressional candidate for the lone district of Iloilo City Vicente Gengos expressed concern over the assignment of lawyer Nelia Aureas as chair of the board of canvassers (BOC) and the designation by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales of lawyer Peter Baliao as acting city prosecutor. Gengos is challenging Gonzalez's son, Raul Jr.
He also said that they were now checking the background of Aureas, who is not from Iloilo City. "We will make our move when the BOC convenes," Gengos added.
There were also reports of vote buying in other areas in the Visayas.
In Guimaras, the Philippine National Police 6th regional mobile group intercepted eight men carrying 155 small envelopes containing cash at Barangay Lapaz, Nueva Valencia town, Guimaras at 11:40 Sunday evening.
Nueva Valencia election officer Romulo Mataquel said the eight were suspected of buying votes but refused to say which candidate would benefit from the fraud. The eight were released 2 p.m. Monday.
In EB Magalona, Negros Occidental, armed men entered four farms in Barangay Tanza and placed indelible ink on the fingers of the farm workers, who are supporters of Mayor Alfonso Gamboa, so they could not vote.
The workers were given P200 each and told to stay home.
In Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, the police arrested Minda Mojana, 54, for vote buying in Barangay Cardioan. Mojana allegedly had five envelopes containing P300 each and sample ballots of mayoralty candidate Allain Gatuslao.
The police also arrested Domingo Picot, a political leader of Jechonias Manzano, a mayoral candidate of Candoni town, Negros Occidental, also for vote buying. Recovered from his possession were sample ballots and P4,200 in cash.
In Cebu, Central Visayas regional elections director Ray Rene Buac said there were reports of vote buying but they could not get confirmation since nobody wanted to testify.
Reporters who covered the different schools in Cebu City heard talk from voters that they received P150 each from a congressional aspirant.
A barangay captain in Cebu City also allegedly hired almost 20 jeeps to ferry voters to and from their polling precincts, while the candidates' leaders also distributed sample ballots, bread and juices in the different schools.
In Southern Leyte, both Lakas-Kampi and the National People's Coalition-Liberal Party engaged in vote buying two nights before Election Day.
The two parties gave out P500 to voters. Reports from Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes, Inquirer Central Luzon; Leoncio Balbin Jr., Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes, Cristina Arzadon, Desiree Caluza, Vincent Cabreza, Elmer Kristian Dauigoy, Gesell Capua, Daryl Dauden, Angelico Soriano, Sheba Espino, Thushara Navimana, Angelica de Vera, Katrina Cabanela, Francia Noguera and Rona Ortiz, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Madonna T. Virola, Juan Escandor Jr., Ephraim Aguilar, Niña Catherine Calleja, Romulo O. Ponte, Marlon Ramos, Marlon Luistro, Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Robert Bagalay, Gerald Gene Querubin and Nino Jesus Orbeta, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Jhunnex Napallacan, Jolene Bulambot, Carla Gomez, Jani Arnaiz, Joey Gabieta, Nestor Burgos Jr., Hazel Villa, Ma. Diosa Labiste, Romy Amarado, Cynthia Borgueta-Pease, Cyrain Cabueñas, Alex Pal, David Israel Sinay and Felipe Celino, Inquirer Visayas