MANILA, Feb 15 (Mabuhay) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to go strong against vote-buyers as Election Day approaches, its chairman, Sixto Brillantes Jr., said Friday.
“Konting warning sa vote-buying, we are coming out with something, which I will not announce,” Brillantes said, adding they may come up with a resolution to minimize the illegal practice of buying and selling votes.
“I actually said we are mulling over whether we can come out with a resolution and somehow minimize vote-buying,” he said.
He said the resolution may be issued at least 10 days before May 13, Election Day. “Kasi ang vote-buying is really being used a few days before the elections, usually bisperas or two days before.”
He refused to give other details, saying it might preempt the plan of the poll body. “Kung sasabihin ko ngayon e di wala na, walang kwenta yung pinaplano namin.”
Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying as “any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”
Vote-selling, meanwhile, is “any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.”
Those who will be found guilty of such and other election offenses will be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation.
The guilty party will also be disqualified to hold public office and deprived of the right of suffrage while a political party found guilty shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than P10,000, which shall be imposed if their officials will be found guilty of the crime.
Brillantes, however, admitted that vote-buying is hard to prosecute due to lack of evidence.
“Wala nga tayong ma-prove na namimigay ng pera. Matter of evidence kaya nga kung meron silang ebidensiya e di iko-consider natin,” he said.
“Kaya nga hanggang ngayon wala pang nakukulong sa vote-buying, pero ako malapit na magpakulong basta may ebidensiya,” Brillantes added.
He also clarified that the giving of mugs, t-shirts, umbrellas and other such items are allowed provided that these are given as part of the campaign and not to buy votes.
“Dati bawal ang lighter, umbrellas, t-shirts. Ngayon pwede na as long as it is freely given as campaign material, ire-report mo lang ‘yan as part of your expenses. Pero if you use that close to the elections, baka pwede nang isama sa vote-buying,” Brillantes said.
“Pag namimigay ka ng pagkain sa bisperas ng eleksyon at nagpapadala ka ng lechon sa lahat ng tao, vote-buying siguro ‘yun,” he further said. (MNS)