Gordon wants probe of ‘rampant vote buying’ in Olongapo City
OLONGAPO CITY—Sen. Richard Gordon on Thursday vented his ire on what he said was the “massive vote buying nationwide,” particularly in his hometown where his sister-in-law is running for mayor.
In a press conference at Subic Bay Freeport, Gordon said he received reports that people had been “buying votes rampantly and scandalously” in the city’s eight villages and several towns in Zambles province.
He said he had already initiated an investigation by the Senate blue ribbon committee, which he heads.
“I am chagrined by the massive vote buying by a suspected narcopolitician and his corrupt cohorts in my hometown,” he said.
“Narcopolitics has arrived in Olongapo City and we are going to cut off its head. It is very clear that the money [to buy votes] come from illegal drugs.”
Gordon did not mince words as he accused reelectionist Zambales Rep. Jeffrey Khonghun and incumbent Olongapo Mayor Rolen Paulino of buying votes.
Paulino withdrew his candidacy for mayor amid the graft and corruption cases filed against him at the Office of the Ombudsman.
He fielded his son, Rolen Paulino Jr., as his substitute candidate while he served his six-month suspension.
The younger Paulino is running against Gordon’s sister-in-law, Anne Marie Gordon.
Khonghun and his son, Subic town Mayor Jefferson Khonghun who is running for Zambales vice governor, were included in the so-called narcolist made public by President Duterte in March.
The Khonghuns had denied that they were in any way connected to illegal drugs.
The elder Paulino said: “Our team is confident because we can answer [these issues] truthfully. These accusations are a web of lies.”
Citing reports he received, Gordon said the camps of Paulino and Khonghun “invited people to certain houses and locations.”
“They would ask people to line up outside. They would countercheck these people’s names in the voters’ list, and, once confirmed as voters, they would give them P1,000 each and [identification] cards,” he said.
He said witnesses gave sworn testimonies that they had received P1,000 from the people of Khonghun and Paulino and that they were instructed to “vote straight” for the Khonghun-Paulino tickets.
But the Paulinos and the Khonghuns said the money they gave was part of the allowance of their poll watchers.
“That allowance is official. Even the Comelec (Commission on Eldections) has the list of our watchers. Even they [Gordons] have watchers. So if they give their watchers allowance, are they buying votes?” the elder Paulino said. —JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.