For P50 up to P1,000 each, votes were sold in Visayas provinces, say witnesses
CEBU CITY, Philippines — It was 9 p.m. on Sunday and the village of Alang-alang in Mandaue City was still abuzz with activities.
The doors of the houses were opened. Some residents had formed into small groups and were having small talks on whom to vote in the barangay polls on Monday.
But they were actually waiting for their political leaders to drop by and turn over their “pahalipay” (gratuity) that ranged from P50 to P100 each.
In a family of six, three were given P100 each stapled to a sample ballot that contained the names of candidates. The money was in crisp P50 bills.
The political leader explained that the family members would have to divide the money among themselves since they could not give money to everybody.
Earlier that day, two more political leaders visited the village. One had P40 clipped to a sample ballot while the other had a crisp P50 bill.
But amount for “pahalipay” in Cebu City was bigger.
One candidate for councilor from a northern barangay in Cebu City said he spent close to P80,000 on Sunday at P50 per voter. This didn’t include the P100, which their group was giving to those who had committed to vote their entire slate.
“This is the most expensive election so far,” according to a two-term barangay councilor.
An outgoing barangay chairman from a Cebu City mountain barangay said that their opponents offered P300 to P500 per voter.
“They are spending to win,” said the barangay chairman who is now running for barangay councilor.
The barangay chairman said this had been the first time since the 2002 election that vote buying again resurfaced in Cebu City’s barangay election.
He added that the Monday’s barangay election was like a proxy war between re-elected Mayor Michael Rama and Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) leader and former mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Cebu City has 80 barangays, 34 in the south district and 46 in the north.
Rama declined to comment on reports of vote buying and proxy war.
Osmeña was in Italy attending the wedding of a close friend and was scheduled to be back Tuesday.
Cebu City south district election officer Edwin Cadungog said his office has received reports of vote buying in almost all barangays but these had to be verified.
However, radio reports showed that vote buying ranged from P20 to P200 per voter.
In the meantime, two women were arrested on Saturday afternoon on suspicion of vote buying in Talisay City, Cebu, said PO1 Reuben Samson of the Talisay police.
Mary Geraga, 19, and Edita Alo, 49, were arrested through citizens’ arrest by Xyrus Allan Bucao, 31 and Clint Gonzaga, of San Isidro Talisay.
The police seized 44 pieces of sample ballots with P150-bills from Geraga and 22 pieces of sample ballots from Alo.
Samson said the two were released and the complainants were told to file a complaint at the Comelec Talisay City office.
There was also reports of vote buying in Argao town, Barangay Day-as in Cordova and Compostela town “all in Cebu. The amount ranged from P50 to P200.”
In Eastern Visayas, the amount used in buying votes ranged from P40 up to P1,000, depending on the post being sought by the candidates.
Candidates running for barangay councilors in Tacloban City, Leyte, gave money from P40 to P100 to each voter while P200 to P1,000 from those running for barangay chairmen.
A candidate seeking for a council seat in Tacloban admitted that she got a loan from a loan shark just to finance her candidacy.
She gave P100 to the voters. The village has more than 800 registered voters.
Vote buying of as much as P300 each was also reported in Maasin City, Southern Leyte.
Vote buying was also reported to be widespread in one town in Eastern Samar town where candidates for councilor gave as much as P400 while those running for barangay chairmen gave as much as P800, local radio reports said.
There were also reports of vote buying in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
Nelson Ligaya, barangay chairman of Barangay 16 in Bacolod, said he received reports that his opponent was distributing P500 per voter, and P1,000 to family leaders.
Bacolod Comelec provincial election officer Jesse Suarez said there were also reports of persons caught using carbon paper as they wrote the names of their bets at the polling center in Pandanon, Murcia, allegedly as proof for payment of their votes, Suarez said. With reports from Jhunnex Napallacan, Jani Arnaiz, Joey Gabieta and Carla Gomez
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