By Chito Chavez
As the May 13, 2019 mid-term election draws near, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) called on the public to report any poll-related irregularities, particularly vote-buying schemes, to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Philippine National Police (PNP) or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The call was made as the DILG, in compliance with the directive of the Comelec Task Force Kontra Bigay, recognized that public participation was vital in having an orderly, honest and peaceful electoral process.
The interagency Task Force Kontra Bigay is led by the Comelec with the DILG, PNP, NBI and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) as members.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the Comelec created the task force to, once and for all, quash all forms of election violations.
He noted that the overwhelming reports of vote-buying and other election-related offense received by the election body has reached alarming levels that prompted the creation of the task force.
Malaya said that “to stop vote-buying, the public must do its part and help the government. If we are really serious about solving this problem, everyone must be pro-active and do their part in solving what has become a mockery of our democracy and a social menace.”
He reminded the public that vote buying and vote selling are prohibited under the Omnibus Election Code.
The said law states that “any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value… 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.”
On the other hand, vote-selling is committed when voters sell or receive money in exchange of their votes for or against any candidate.
“Mabigat po ang parusa kapag napatunayang bumibili o ipinagbibili ninyo ang inyong boto: pagkakakulong ng hanggang anim na taon at diskwalipikasyon sa paghawak ng tungkulin sa gobyerno (there are severe punishments of up to six years of jail time or disqualification from occupying public posts if it is proven that vote buying and vote selling are committed by the concerned parties),’’ Malaya said.
The DILG with the help of Comelec has prepared a standard complaint form to be filled out by those who want to report any incident of vote buying.
“The template form which we will distribute to the public must be notarized and submitted to the COMELEC, PNP, or NBI office nearest you,” he added.
“Vote buying is a serious allegation with electoral and criminal liabilities. Hindi po ito report-report lang o tawag tawag lang (This is not simply a rag-tag report or mere calls). If you are serious in reducing vote buying, then you must fill out this form, swear to it before a notary public, and support your complaint with evidences,” Malaya maintained.
The DILG will help the Comelec in conducting the information drive against vote buying while the COMELEC, PNP, NBI and IBP will help in the investigation and filing of cases.
“Our call is for the public to help the government ensure an honest and peaceful elections and choose officials who are matino, mahusay at maaasahan (righteous, good and dependable). We likewise urge the candidates and their supporters as well as the voters not to resort to vote buying and vote selling as these make a mockery of our electoral process and our democracy,” Malaya concluded.