Village candidates give away cash, rice, liquor to win votes
LUCENA CITY, Philippines—Despite an appeal from Lucena Bishop Emilio Marquez and a police campaign against vote-buying, barangay (village) election candidates continue to try winning voter support by giving away cash, rice, groceries and liquor.
“Go out and vote. But vote wisely and select good candidates. Do not sell your vote or exchange it for any material goods,” Marquez appealed to voters in a message aired on local television over several days.
Senior Supt. Ronaldo Genaro Ylagan, Quezon police chief, has ordered the provincial police force to go after candidates and voters who buy and sell votes.
Ylagan said vote-buying would frustrate the will of the people and prevent the election of the most qualified candidates. He appealed for cooperation from the people, asking them to report to the police candidates who are buying votes.
Ylagan warned that the police would strictly implement the liquor ban, which began after midnight Saturday and would last until midnight Monday.
According to a group of college students interviewed by the Inquirer on Saturday, campaign staff members of candidates, particularly in the urban barangays, have been discreetly distributing plastic bags containing rice, sardines and noodles to voters since Friday.
The students from one of the local colleges here, who all requested anonymity and also asked that their school not be identified, have been monitoring the conduct of the barangay elections as a school project.
The students said vote-buying was going on in all of the city’s 33 villages. But they said it was more rampant in the four biggest barangays—Cotta, Gulang-Gulang, Ibabang Dupay and Dalahican.
In Pampanga province, aides of local politicians Mark and Maynard Lapid were allegedly buying votes to support the brothers’ candidates in their hometown of Porac by isolating their candidates’ rivals.
A source told the Inquirer that the Lapid brothers’ aides were paying P500 per vote and marking the index fingers of people who agreed to sell their votes with indelible ink, which meant they would not vote on Monday.
In Porac, the strategy is called “negative voting.”
But Maynard Lapid, a councilor in Porac, denied that he and his brother Mark, a former governor of Pampanga and now general manager of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, were buying votes.
“We deny allegations that our family is, in any way, involved in any vote-buying activity in Barangay Pio in Porac. We always respect the wisdom and the decision of the people of Porac. We also value the people’s electoral rights. We rather appeal to all to help keep our election peaceful,” Maynard said.
The Inquirer tried to reach the brothers’ father, Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid, but his cell phone was turned off on Sunday. His chief of staff, lawyer Filmer Abrajano, did not respond to the Inquirer’s requests for comment.
On Sunday, Inquirer informants in public markets in San Fernando and Angeles observed that more shoppers had P500 bills than usual.
But Rafael Olaño, regional director of the Commission on Elections in Central Luzon, said he had not received vote-buying complaints as of Sunday morning.
In Laguna province, residents were disturbed about a last-minute voters’ assembly held in a private resort owned by a candidate in Calamba City.
Some residents of the city showed a campaign leaflet of Florencio Morales Jr., a candidate for barangay chair in Real village.
The leaflet looked like an ordinary campaign material except that it was signed on the back by City Councilor Moises Morales, uncle of the candidate, and had a serial number. It was also dated Oct. 27 and indicated the time of the assembly at the resort of the Morales family in Real.
“People were told that this serves as a coupon to claim P500,” said a resident of Real.
The resident said the leaflets were distributed weeks ago by some motorcycle-riding men who also gave away rice and groceries.
Another resident said holders of the leaflet had been told to claim P500 starting 5 p.m. on Sunday, “but some were already lining up as early as noon.”
When reached for comment, Councilor Morales said the leaflets were stubs for a raffle to be drawn on his 52nd birthday on Nov. 25.
“No, not today. Today we only meet with our watchers. That’s for my birthday. You should come, too,” Morales said by phone.—With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
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.