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Eleksyon 2013

Cavite Gov. Remulla gave out cash prizes before campaign period — report

April 10, 2013 3:15pm

(Updated 4:51 p.m.) It was like a noontime game show in Dasmariñas, Cavite as re-electionist gubernatorial candidate Jonvic Remulla was caught on video giving out money to residents who may be potential voters for this year's elections, just days before the start of the campaign period for local candidates on March 29.

In a report on “Unang Balita,” Remulla can be seen in a March 25 event, "Ugnayan ng Barangay,” giving out money—ranging from P1,000 to P10,000—to raffle winners as the crowd gathered around him.

CoC filed, but not yet a candidate

This could be seen as vote-buying under the Omnibus Election Code, which penalizes election offenses with imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office.

Under Section 261, vote-buying involves “any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community 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.”

But a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said they could not penalize Remulla since the raffle was held four days before the start of the local campaign period.

“Hindi pa siya liable for election offense,” poll commissioner Lucenito Tagle said in a text message.

Tagle explained that the poll body can only go after election offenders after the start of the campaign period, since the Supreme Court ruled in Peñera vs. Comelec that those in the run-up to the elections can only be considered candidates within the campaign period.

“That's the problem. Sabi kasi ng Supreme Court... hindi pa sila considered candidates kahit nag-file na sila ng certificates of candidacy. They are considered candidates lang once the campaign period starts,” Tagle said.

Comelec commissioner Grace Padaca added in a text message that the “best way is for a formal charge so we can look into the evidences.”

But Padaca posed the question: “Is anyone ready to do it?”

His own money

Remulla, for his part, said he does not see any violation with the raffle.

“Under the Comelec rules, bawal lang 'yan basta campaign period itself. But during that time hindi pa naman campaign period,” Remulla said, adding that the raffle was one way for him to interact with Caviteños.

He added that the raffle has been going on in every Ugnayan ng Barangay since December 2011, noting that the funds used were his personal money and not from taxpayers' pockets.

It cost Remulla some P80,000 for two raffles in two separate events, he said.

“It's been going on since December 2011. Whenever we reach out about a project, we get the entire community involved para alam nila ang nangyayari. Just to have fun, we have a raffle for the people who are there,” Remulla said in a separate phone interview.

“Iba na ang mindset ng voters ngayon. It just adds a little spice,” he added.

Cracking down

Still, Cavite Rep. Irineo "Ayong" Maliksi, who is Remulla's opponent in the gubernatorial race, said they would still file charges against Remulla for election offense.

“Nasa legal team ko na. Pati mga litrato ng pamimigay ng bigas, pamimigay ng pera. Maliwanag na maliwang. Talagang magbibigay kami ng asunto sa kanila. Bawal na bawal 'yun,” Maliksi said.

The Comelec is cracking down on candidates who violate election campaign rules. Administration senatorial bet Jamby Madrigal is now being investigated by the poll body for holding an online contest with an iPad as a prize last February.

Madrigal, a former senator and presidential candidate, has since apologized for the contest, saying it was her supporters who were behind it.

Meanwhile, United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidate Ernesto Maceda is also in the hot seat for trying to hold a raffle for P500 in Manila in February.

The senate bet immediately stopped the raffle when he found out it was illegal.

The Comelec said it may unseat candidates who win in the elections if they were found to have violated election rules.

“Under the rules of disqualification, maski after the elections, puwede pa rin i-apply yung disqualification. May provision diyan, Republic Act 6646, any disqualification case initiated before the elections [and] when completed after, can still be enforced,” Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. had said, adding that the disqualification case has to go through a process.

He was referring to Section 6 of RA 6646 or the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987 which states that “any candidate who has been declared by final judgment to be disqualified shall not be voted for, and the votes cast for him shall not be counted.”

“If for any reason a candidate is not declared by final judgment before an election to be disqualified and he is voted for and receives the winning number of votes in such election, the Court or Commission shall continue with the trial and hearing of the action, inquiry, or protest and, upon motion of the complainant or any intervenor, may during the pendency thereof order the suspension of the proclamation of such candidate whenever the evidence of his guilt is strong,” the law further states. — BM, GMA News
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