Rampant but hard to trace and prosecute.
This was how the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) described the existence of vote-buying during elections, particularly at the local level.
In a report by GMA News' Isay Reyes on GMA News TV's State of the Nation on Wednesday night, PPCRV media director Ana de Villa-Singson even gave a sample scenario of one of the many forms of the illegal activity.
"What's happening is sa gabi, may umiikot sa mga bahay, kumukuha ng mga signature and asking if they’re willing to sell their vote... but that happens in the dead of night kaya mahirap makakuha ng pruweba,” she said, adding that what happens is “very, very discreet.”
The SONA report showed an image of a sample ballot with money inserted in it that is allegedly being given by two candidates in Surigao del Norte. The report noted that the money offers range from P500 to P3,000.
The PPCRV said that since February, they have received various reports of vote-buying around the country.
In the CBCP article, De Villa-Singson was quoted as saying that there that vote-buying is difficult to prove.
“It’s very hard. You do not know who they are. It’s very hard to find people who would testify (in court),” she said.
Likewise, De Villa-Singson was quoted in the article as expressing apprehensions over bigger and bigger targets of candidates who buy votes.
“It’s alarming for us because it’s getting rampant. The target units before were only families but now it’s per barangay. What’s next, provincial? Oh my gosh!” the CBCP article quoted her as saying.
The PPCRV has already scheduled to air its advocacy ads against vote-buying in time for the May 2013 elections on Monday.
It has also launched its Call-A-Lawyer program, in which one can ask for legal assistance to know what to do in case of witnessing election-related anomalies.