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Go on report of vote-buying: Show proof

Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go asked his critics to prove allegations that he violated campaign rules by distributing cash to fire victims.

In a statement, Go, once President Rodrigo Duterte’s most trusted aide, said he would plod on in trying to help poor Filipinos and not be distracted by false accusations.

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“First of all, I visited the fire victims to make them happy and listen to their concerns,” Go said.

No cash

“I didn’t give them any cash assistance. As a candidate, I know it’s illegal,” he said. “Neither did I promise cash assistance,” he added.

“If you find anything wrong in what I do during the campaign, show proof,” Go said. “There’s a process for that,” he added.

Malacañang also dared critics to file charges against Go, even as it insisted that Go was very unlikely to commit vote-buying or other election offenses.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace would not interfere with Go’s campaign or advise him against anything that might be construed as an election offense.

He added that the vote-buying allegations would be difficult to prove, since they were not outright solicitation of votes and Go did not distribute the cash donations to fire victims himself.

So sue

“Why don’t they file [charges] if that’s what they believe?” Panelo said.

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“You know, I looked at the provision. It would be hard to prove, because what it says there is that will induce the voter to be influenced by what you gave,” he said.

“The situation with Bong Go is different because these are donations and they are fire victims,” Panelo added.

Two poll watchdog groups—
Kontradaya and the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections—had urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to look into reports that Go gave away cash assistance to fire victims in Makati City and Manila.

They called on the poll body to investigate the report, saying it might fall under vote-buying, an election offense.

Donations

The Comelec said distributing cash donations might fall under this category even if the candidate was not outright in soliciting votes.

However, Panelo said this was just the opinion of Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, and the decision on whether it was a vote-buying incident would be for the Comelec and the courts to determine.

See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019

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TAGS: 2019 elections, 2019 senatorial bets, Bong Go, Christopher Go, vote-buying
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