Barely a week before the mid-term polls, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday reminded the public of the process of filing vote buying complaints.
In a statement, DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, said the department, with the help of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), has prepared a standard complaint form to be filled up by those who want to report any incident of vote buying.
“Vote buying is a serious allegation with electoral and criminal liabilities. Hindi po ito report-report lang o tawag-tawag lang (This does not end with reporting or just making a call). 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 said.
“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 (sensible, excellent workers, 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,” he added.
Vote buying and vote selling are prohibited under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code.
The law states that vote-buying applies to “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 for 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 is a heavy penalty for those who will be proven buying or selling votes: imprisonment of up to six years and disqualification from public office),” Malaya said.
On Wednesday, the Task Force Kontra Bigay, with the Comelec, DILG, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) as members, was launched with the aim of addressing numerous reports of vote buying in the country.
The DILG will help the Comelec conduct the information drive against vote buying while the poll body, together with the PNP, NBI and the IBP, will help investigate and file cases.
“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 (his/ her) part in solving what has become a mockery of our democracy and a social menace,” Malaya said. (Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)