By REYNARD MAGTOTO, VERA Files
DARAGA, Albay—The campaign period in this town ended with politicians desperate to win courting votes through vote buying.
The most common form of vote buying here is what they call “paipit,” or a sample ballot stapled with money placed in a brown envelope. This practice is done by local candidates through coordinators in every barangay who get the list of active voters and prepare their “payroll.”They then bring the money with sample ballot placed in an envelope and distribute it from house to house.
The amounts range from P100 to P500 per voter, National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections Chairperson Corazon S. De la Paz–Bernardo said in a letter to Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.
“A municipal kagawad seeking reelection was seen giving rice to voters. Money and or goods are given out by those who are close to the candidate although some candidates do these themselves,” said De la Paz-Bernardo who cited reports coming from Namfrel’s chapter in Albay.
Daragueños interviewed by VERA Files said they have received “paipit” amounting to P300 from a mayoral candidate and P20 from a candidate for Board Member of the 2nd District in Albay.
A resident of Tagas, Daraga who refused to be named said he got P100 from a candidate running for vice governor. He said he expected more money to come from the candidates.
No one, however, has reported the rampant vote buying to the local Comelec office, more so file cases against candidates, said Daraga Election Officer Arlene Chavez.
Neither have the local police received reports of vote buying or election- related violence, the Philippine National Police here said.
Chavez urged those with proof of vote buying to file a case with the Comeleclaw department and provide pictures, the name of candidate, and the information on the date, time and place of the incident.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, vote buying and vote selling are prohibited. Under Comelec Resolution 9688, any person may arrest, evenwithout warrant, persons engaged in vote buying or selling.
Based on a survey conducted in Albay by Namfrel, nine of 15 respondents said they had been offered money for their votes while the rest were reported that they have heard of instances.
“Candidates normally say that their money came from sponsors or from friends, although some suspect they could come from government funds,” it said.
In its letter toBrilliantes, Namfrelrecommended that the poll body act on anonymous tips such as video footage of vote buying.
Namfrel submitted more than 20 cases of reported vote buying and selling in Malabon, Manila, Abra, Mountain Province,Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Rizal, Palawan, Romblon, Albay, Negros Oriental,Negros Oriental, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Antique, Surigao de Sur, Siargao, Agusan del Norte,A gusan del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay and Tawi–Tawi.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)