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PENALTY NO DETERRENT

Buying, selling of votes rampant in villages

COLOR OF MONEY Voters show crisp P100 bills as proof of vote buying in Monday’s elections at Barangay Old Zaniga, Mandaluyong City. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Undeterred by the penalty under the Omnibus Election Code, candidates in Monday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections bought votes across the country, according to reports gathered by the Inquirer.

Bills amounting to P50, P150, P200, P300, P500, P1,000, P3,000 and P5,000 — often contained in envelopes with sample ballots — changed hands.

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Several persons were arrested, but the lack of witnesses and complainants may not lead to the filing of charges against violators.

“We need the cooperation of the community because the money cannot speak for itself,” said Veronico Petalcorin, Commission on Elections (Comelec) director in Central Visayas.

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“They must be brave enough to fight these candidates who buy votes,” Petalcorin said.

Violators face imprisonment of one to six years and disqualification from holding public office.

The penalty is apparently far from the minds of candidates and voters at a densely populated barangay in Metro Cebu’s Mandaue City. Most residents remained awake past midnight of Monday.

Awake past midnight

Shortly before 1 a.m., a candidate for councilor went around the neighborhood to knock on homes and distribute crisp P50 bills for each registered voter.

In Cebu and Aklan provinces, eight persons were arrested for vote buying.

Seven were detained at the police station in Cebu’s Bantayan town at 10 p.m. of Sunday. Seized from them were 19 white envelopes containing P50 each and sample ballots with the names of candidates at Barangay Botigues.

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Police briefly held a 60-year-old man suspected to be engaged in vote buying in Nabas town, Aklan province.

Melchor Maming was detained based on a complaint by a village councilor, said SPO1 Nida Gregas, spokesperson for the Aklan provincial police. The complaint cited a claim of a resident, Cherly Evangelista, that Maming gave her P150 attached to a sample ballot.

In Cebu province, police seized bills of different denominations totaling P210 at Barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu City, but no one was arrested.

Leyte, Samar

Massive vote buying was also reported in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar in Eastern Visayas. The amount reportedly ranged from P20 to P5,000 for every voter.

In Mondragon town, Northern Samar province, P5,000 was given to those choosing a barangay chair.

In Dulag town, the amount ranged from P3,000 to P5,000 for village chair and less than P1,000 for councilors.

A P500 bill enclosed in an envelope with sample ballot was distributed by supporters of a candidate at Barangay Semirara, Caluya town, Antique province.

Taguig, Quezon City

In Taguig City, a man was arrested on Monday after he tried to bribe a voter with P1,000 to vote for his candidate.

Police arrested Teofilo Banares Jr., 58, near Silangan Elementary School at Barangay Upper Bicutan and Taguig’s Police Community Precinct 2.

In Mandaluyong City, a voter was handed P100 and was told to vote for a candidate running for barangay chair.

A couple at Barangay Payatas, Quezon City, were given P500 each by a candidate. The couple, however, are not registered voters in the barangay.

Quezon province

In Calauag town, Quezon province, Christian Maraña, a reelectionist chair at Barangay Poblacion 2, was arrested after a resident accused Maraña of offering him and his wife two envelopes containing P200 on Sunday.

Police also held seven people at Dalahican village in Lucena City. A shoulder bag recovered from them by village guards contained nine envelopes with P200 each and sample ballots.

In Sorsogon province, candidates reportedly handed out P300 in envelopes with sample ballots.

Also on Sunday, a 63-year-old barangay health worker was arrested after a city councilor caught her in the act of giving money to a resident at Barangay Milagrosa, Calamba City. Police recovered two envelopes with P500 each.

A voter also reported to the police two vote buyers who gave her P400 and a sample ballot at Batangas National High School in Batangas City. —Reports from Doris C. Bongcac, Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Norman Mendoza, Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Jennifer Allegado, Joey A. Gabieta, Futch Inso, Hazel Villa, Rosalie Abatayo, Ma. April Mier, Madonna T. Virola, Stephanie Florida, Gernie Delgado, Dale Jan Dino, Mark Francis Banay, Roma Joy Padre, Elyssa Kristine Ella, Maite Denise Bobis, Ma. Teresa Mortel, Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Rey Anthony Ostria, Maricar Cinco, Tonette Orejas, Allan Macatuno, Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Villamor Visaya Jr., Leilanie Adriano and Yolanda Sotelo in the provinces; and Dexter Cabalza, Jaymee Gamil and Jhesset O. Enano in Metro Manila

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TAGS: barangay elections 2018, SK elections 2018, vote-buying
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