Comelec warns vs use of public funds for buying votes in barangay, SK polls
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson George Garcia on Thursday warned local officials against using government funds to campaign or endorse their favored candidates running in the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
At a press briefing at Fort Ilocandia Resort in this city, Garcia said the Commission is “serious” in its efforts to “minimize” vote-buying incidents, and public funds must be spared for these purposes.
“We already proved that the Comelec is serious on the issue of vote-buying. A governor, a mayor got disqualified from the recent elections because of vote-buying),” Garcia added.
He reminded all provincial, city, and municipal officials not to violate the provision of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) against the release of public funds without securing an exemption from Comelec.
“Starting August 28, there are already prohibitions. If they release funds or start a project, they should apply for exemption from us. There are limitations in using the funds and resources of the government,” Garcia said.
At the same briefing, Comelec Commissioner Ernesto Maceda Jr. acknowledged the “insufficiency” in the country’s legal framework, making proving these offenses difficult.
“Same as proving other crimes, [these election offenses] also need evidence. We have to stand by it,” said Maceda, who is also in-charge of the Committee on Kontra-Bigay, which aims to deter vote-buying and vote-selling as prohibited acts under Article 261-A of the OEC.
Maceda also said they were looking for “creative ways” to address the sophisticated means of vote-buying and vote-selling that have evolved through electronic payment apps. INQ