By Mario Casayuran
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee sought Monday an in-depth investigation by different government agencies into the victory of 26 out of 35 candidates who ran for various positions in different provinces and municipalities, despite their inclusion in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s narco-list.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, committee chairman, said there were massive, flagrant, and scandalous vote-buying in these areas.
Gordon said an extensive investigation should be conducted by different agencies such as the Commission on Elections, Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“While vote-buying may have become commonplace to some people, the inordinate, flagrant, and scandalous vote-buying in areas where the narco-politicians won must be investigated. A lot of vote-buying occurred and there are affidavits to show that. Where there are massive vote-buying, cash was use,’’ he said.
‘’And because so many thousands of pesos were distributed, AMLC should look into that. The BIR should look into their capability, the Comelec should investigate, and the police should also investigate,” he said.
Gordon said the AMLC should determine if there were large-scale withdrawals from banks and who withdrew money on those days, so that charges could be filed.
Otherwise, he added, the strategic areas where the narco-politicians won that are conducive to drug smuggling, could become part of a drug cartel just like the Cali Cartel, a drug cartel based in southern Colombia, which had military, political and legal connections.
Gordon also pointed out that the narco-politicians also fielded other family members to various positions, to have the influence to ensure their protection from harassment.
They also forged alliances with local candidates who were also just as desperate to win to protect their graft and corrupt practices, he added.
In the case of Zambales, a province with a 272 kilometer coastline which is right next to Scarborough Shoal and near China where lots of smuggled drugs originate from, there was rampant vote-buying from Subic to Sta. Cruz and Olongapo City.
Gordon, a former mayor of Olongapo City, claimed the Khonghun’s, who were among those named by the President as narco-politicians, engaged in massive vote-buying in Zambales to ensure their victory.
‘’They bagged four positions, aside from the local candidates they supported in various municipalities and city who also won,’’ he said.
“It is obviously an attempt by the narco-politicians to save themselves by getting positions. They now hold sway over these areas. Now, these people have proven that with just money, they can win, they can buy the Comelec, they can buy votes. I have never seen anything like it in my life, and I blew the whistle on it, four days before the elections. It is dangerous for us now because Zambales is a coastline province right next to Scarborough Shoals. It would be so easy to bring in drugs,” he added.