Tacloban City — No one has submitted a single evidence of vote-buying in Eastern Visayas despite reports of massive bribery in Monday’s barangay and youth council polls.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Regional Director Jose Nick Mendros said in an interview Wednesday instances of vote buying were posted on social networking sites, but these reports are not verified.
“Both parties were engaged in vote-buying, but one party would report in social media that the other party was involved in vote buying because they felt that they were at risk of losing,” Mendros said.
The Comelec regional office has been receiving reports of vote buying in all provinces in the region. The bribe was reportedly higher in more impoverished areas in Samar provinces.
Mendros urged those who have evidence of vote-buying to submit it to the police so those involved could be charged.
Philippine National Police’s Eastern Visayas regional spokesperson Supt. Ma. Bella Rentuaya said nobody submitted evidence and no one was caught on the act of buying and selling votes since transactions were done inside houses.
“It’s hard to stop this practice because we cannot charge someone for carrying money since there are no law against possessing money during election season. Those who received money are not willing to submit evidences as well,” Rentuaya said.
A 21-year-old resident of the island town of Sto. Niño, Samar, admitted receiving more than P4,000 Sunday night. It was her first time to vote in the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections and second time as a regular voter.
“The election budget for me was double since I voted for candidates both in village and SK positions,” the resident said.
She said more money was offered on election day in their island-town compared to the main island of Samar province.
The bribe for voting a village chief was P2,000, P1,500 for SK chairman, and P100 for village and youth council members. She said she’s not interested in pressing charges since it is only during election season that they receive “cash assistance” from local officials.
Vote buying and vote-selling is defined as any person who gives, offers, or promises money or anything of value directly or indirectly 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.
Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code prohibits the practice and punishes it with imprisonment of between one year and six years.