Raps filed against alleged vote buyers in Visayas
Charges of vote-buying were filed in Iloilo, Cebu and Southern Leyte on the weekend before Monday’s elections.
In Estancia town in Iloilo, municipal election officer Majelia Alcalde filed a police report alleging that she had witnessed reelectionist Vice Mayor Rowena Placencia (Liberal Party) buying votes at the candidate’s residence on Friday.
In the police report, Alcalde said she went to the official’s house after receiving a complaint of vote-buying and saw money being distributed.
The vice mayor allegedly hid in her room upon seeing Alcalde, according to the report filed by the election officer.
Placencia could not be reached for comment via her mobile phone.
In Dingle town in Iloilo, reelectionist Mayor Rufino Palabrica III (LP) and 16 members of his staff were reportedly forced to stay overnight at the municipal building after supporters of mayoral challenger Henry Anotado, also with the LP, surrounded the building on Saturday evening to protest alleged vote-buying going on inside the municipal hall.
From around 100 people on Saturday night, Anotado’s supporters swelled to about 300 on Sunday morning, said Senior Insp. Ramon Coriana Jr., Dingle police chief.
Tension rose Sunday morning when around 200 supporters of Palabrica arrived at the municipal hall compound.
The tension was diffused and Palabrica and his staff were able to leave the building at 10:40 a.m. on Sunday after Senior Supt. Gil Lebin, Iloilo police director, negotiated the peaceful resolution of the standoff.
In Dumangas town also in Iloilo, a barangay (village) captain was arrested for alleged vote-buying on Sunday.
Senior Insp. Jonathan Pinuela, officer in charge of the Dumangas police station, refused to identify the arrested official, saying that they were still processing the case.
In Southern Leyte, a congressional candidate filed a complaint of vote buying at the Commission on Elections provincial office against her opponent and his allies.
Dundeet Lerias named her opponent, Gov. Damian Mercado, his brother, Rep. Roger Mercado, and allies Rustico Estrella and Felicicimo Taborada as respondents in her complaint filed at 10 p.m. on Saturday.
The Mercados, however, denied the allegation of vote buying, saying this came from the “dirty tricks department of the LP.”
Damian is running for representative against Lerias, while Roger is running for governor against Robert Castañares. The Mercados belong to the National Unity Party.
Assistant provincial election supervisor Reuel Junio said the complaint of vote buying, the first filed in their office, would be forwarded to the Comelec central office.
Lerias alleged that Estrella, who is running for mayor in Pintuyan town, gave an envelope to policeman Hefner Doble containg two P500 bills on May 8 as a “tip” from the Mercado brothers.
On Saturday, she said that Taborada, the barangay captain of Canturing in Maasin City, gave barangay councilor Evelyn Pedrera envelopes containing P1,000 each and was instructed to give these to NUP supporters.
Attached to the complaint of Lerias were affidavits of Doble and Pedrera.
In Cebu, the Dilaab Foundation urged concerned citizens to take photos of those whom they catch buying votes using their camera phones in a bid to stop the activity.
Fr. Carmelo Diola, Dilaab Foundation executive director, called on voters not to vote candidates who were buying votes.
“Let’s establish standards in the way we vote,” he said. “Let us not forget ‘Nga ang Kandidatong mopalit, korapyon ang kapalit (if a candidate buys votes, he will be corrupt in office)’” he said.
In Naga City, two persons were arrested on Sunday afternoon in Barangay Lutac for allegedly buying votes.
A group of policemen led by Insp. Ruel Burlat of the Regional Public Safety Battalion was patrolling the village when they saw two men distributing envelopes containing money and sample ballots in the barangay, said PO1 Crispin Amaquiton of the Naga police.
The suspects were identified as Rudy Obado, 40, and Marjun Geraldez, 20, both from Lutac.
The two were turned over to the Naga City police pending the filing of charges against them.—Reports from Jani Arnaiz, Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Bernadeth Rosales and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas
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