Watchdog says vote-buying rampant in Ilocos Sur special polls
MANILA, Philippines—The special election Saturday for the Ilocos Sur congressional seat vacated by Ronald Singson was peaceful despite reports of rampant vote-buying, the head of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting said.
Henrietta de Villa, PPCRV chair, said that the election watchdog’s local volunteers reported many incidents of vote-buying and barangay officials entering poll precincts while voters were casting their votes in Ilocos Sur’s first congressional district.
“They sent me a report as early as last week saying that the vote-buying was too much and so they had to come out with a statement reminding people that elections in a democracy can’t be bought with money,” De Villa said.
“It’s now peaceful there because it seems like they know who will already win. It’s just that in some polling places, there were barangay officials coming in and out of precincts and they called attention to that,” she added.
Singson gave up his seat in Congress after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a Hong Kong court after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking.
His younger brother Ryan, the vice-mayor of Vigan, is contesting the seat against lawyer Bertrand Baterina.
“What they told me was that it seemed that the elections were already decided because of the vote-buying and selling,” De Villa said.
However, she declined to say which camp was buying votes, adding that PPCRV volunteers might be accused of being partisan.
De Villa said that the PPCRV would file a protest if it sees any anomaly in the election results and that the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Commission on Elections had been informed about the vote-buying allegations.
“The elections were peaceful in the sense that there was no violence but it is just as depressing because there was rampant vote-buying and selling even prior to the elections,” De Villa said.
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