Police warns public: Vote-buyers, sellers in Brgy. and SK elections will be sent to jail
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) is warning the public against the acts of vote-buying and vote-selling for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections on Monday, October 30, 2023.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson of the PRO-7 director, Police Brigadier General Anthony Aberin, told reporters that this warning is given to the public especially for running candidates and their supporters.
Pelare said that those who will be caught in the act of buying or selling votes will be sent to jail and filed with appropriate charges in court.
“This is a stern warning to everyone, especially those who are supporting candidates to always follow election law. Otherwise, we will not be hesitant to enforce the law, arrest violators, and charge them in court,” he said.
Based on a report from the INQUIRER.net, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) defines vote-buying as the act of giving, offering, or promising either of the following: money, job, reward, and expenses, in exchange for votes for a certain candidate.
Meanwhile, vote-selling is defined as the act of offering votes and directly or indirectly asking or receiving any of the favors mentioned previously by any person, group, or community
Both of these acts are considered election offenses and are punishable by law according to Article 12 of the Omnibus Election Code.
Despite this, both vote-buying and vote-selling are rampant in the Philippines every election season. Pelare stated that in previous elections, there have been arrests made because of vote-buying in Central Visayas
As the day of the election draws nearer, Pelare assured that several security officers will be roving around the communities to monitor any election-related crimes that could disrupt the election.
“We will flood our communities with police officers. Not only with police officers but Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel
ug kining Philippine Coastguard. Naa tay specific instruction from the COMELEC 7 nga bantayan ang mga vote-buying ug vote-selling. And if circumstances warrant, your police will be apprehending or arresting those who violate,” he said He added that violators will be apprehended and brought to the police station even without a warrant of arrest.
“Pwede mi mo-conduct og warrantless arrest basta sa amo lang atubangan, naay nahitabo nga pagpalit ug pagbaligya og votes,” stated Pelare.
He added that citizens can also arrest individuals through citizen’s arrest if they witness them buying or selling votes in order to stop the proliferation of violators.
“Under the law, any citizen, even if you are not a law-enforcement officer, you can effect arrest if a crime is committed in your presence. So citizen’s arrest can be done. But if you want to get the assistance of the police, we are there. And we will respond and we will do our duties as mandated,” said Pelare
According to Pelare, they have already received initial reports about vote-buying and selling hrough the Kontra-Bigay hotline and Kontra-Bigay desks strategically established in the region.
“Kontra-Bigay” is the initiative launched by the COMELEC to stop vote-buying and selling and ensure the apprehension of those who violate the election regulations.
Pelare said that they are expecting more reports on this to come in the next days and that they are prepared to conduct police operations to respond
“We expect nga naa pay was dashan nga report nga moabot as the election draw nearer. So of course kung naa mi akita nga probable cause nga moconduct og police operation pinaagi sa pagdakop, then we will do it and we will file the appropriate charges in court of course under the direction of the Commission on Elections,” he added.
Meanwhile, Comelec Cebu Provincial Spokesperson Omar Sharif Dilangaen Mamalinta shared on a news forum on Tuesday, October 24, that citizens can report incidents of vote-buying and vote-selling through their Kontra-Bigay complaint center.
He stated that individuals who wish to report to the authorities can reach out through their e-mail: [email protected]; their official website at www.comelec.gov.ph; or through their hotline number: (02) 8559- 9947.
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