WHILE the Commission on Elections and other groups campaigned for clean elections, vote buying was still observed during the elections Monday, May 13.

President Rodrigo Duterte said vote buying during elections is hard to eradicate, considering the Philippines remains to be a poor country. 

Duterte, who cast his vote at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School (Dranhs), said vote buying has many forms.

This came after various reports of vote buying were reported on the day of elections in the country.

"For as long as the Philippines remains to be a poor country, especially when feudal system exists lalo na sa rural area aggravated by the communist? Yun," Duterte said in an ambush interview right after he cast his vote.

The communist he referred to is the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

He also said that almost everyone is doing vote buying.

"Walang hindi nagabili ng boto. Walang hindi nagabili ng boto. Turo mo sino hindi nagabili ng boto," Duterte said.

Police Regional Office (PRO)-Davao's Regional Election Monitoring Center’s (Remac) reported that as of noon Monday, May 13, a total of eight cases of vote buying have been reported across the region while two persons were arrested.

Of this figure, three were recorded by Davao del Norte Police Provincial Office (DNPPO) in the towns of Asuncion, Talaingod and Dujali; one by Compostela Valley PPO in Monkayo; three by Davao Oriental PPO (two in San Isidro and one in Lupon); and one by Davao del Sur PPO in the municipality of Bansalan.

The two apprehended were identified as Jennifer Pangpang Abellanosa, male, 47, resident of Sitio Sto. Niño, Bansalan, Davao del Sur, and Rodelo Juanilo Salupan, male, 39, and resident of the same place. They were caught in the act of distributing sample ballots with money to the residents of Barangay New Clarin, Bansalan, Davao del Sur around 10 a.m. Sunday, May 12.

During the operation, authorities recovered from the suspects seven pieces of empty small brown envelope, one piece small brown envelope containing P500 bill with sample ballot, one piece bond paper containing the names and signatures of the persons who already received an envelope containing money and sample ballots, and a piece of yellow paper containing the names of the persons who will be given money and sample ballots.

PRO-Davao Director Marcelo Morales said anyone found vote buying and selling will be punished with imprisonment, since vote buying is a violation of Section 261 of Omnibus Election Code.

"Huwag po kayong padadala sa suhol ng mga kandidato. At lalong wag niyong ipagbili ang mga boto ninyo. Instant gratification ang tawag po dyan. Bibigyan kayo ng kapiranggot na pera kapalit ng ilang taon na paghihirap ng ating bansa. Ibig sabihin, pag hinayaan nyo silang bilhin ang karapatan n'yong pumili ng kandidato, hinahayaan nyo silang nakawin ang kinabukasan ninyo," Morales said.

PRO-Davao has been intensifying its campaign against vote buying.

Meanwhile, Davao City Tourism Officer Generose Tecson publicly posted on social media of a vote buying incident in her "district," which she later divulged in the comment section to be in Davao del Norte.

"In all my years of political work and managing campaigns, I have never seen and experienced the kind of vote buying that a party has perpetuated in my district. The move had no respect for decency, self worth and moral values," she said.

Tecson said she is frightened at the way the people responded.

"Essentially, there was no fear for what’s right and what’s wrong. There was only the thought that one should get his share whether it came from legal or illegal sources," Tecson said.

She said she "can only hope and pray that people were not blinded by all the money that was mindlessly thrown about."

"That they will understand that the action was done by people who are greedy and want more and more at the expense of the people whom they claim they want to serve," Tecson said.

"Change is here...yes sure, change that reeks of raider values. Congratulations, you have made your mark and your party has certainly created a new culture. A culture of no morals and compunction. A culture of greed. God bless us all," she said at the end of her post. 

- Juliet Rivera



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