GMA News Online

Pacman, JDV, Chavit, Atienza son face vote-buying charges

April 26, 2007 6:33pm
A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said Thursday that the investigation into vote-buying allegation against Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez could also be expanded to look into similar complaints against other candidates.

Comelec Commissioner Resurreccion Borra said the poll body was also swamped with vote-buying complaints against Manila mayoral candidate Ali Atienza, administration senatorial candidate Luis “Chavit" Singson, Pangasinan congressional candidate Jose de Venecia and South Cotabato first district congressional bet Manny Pacquiao.

Atienza has been accused of vote-buying after he allegedly distributed letters containing mobile phone prepaid cards.

Comelec-based reporters even received such letter from Atienza. It was dated April 23 and had the alleged signature of Atienza, the incumbent Manila mayor’s son.

“Please receive my symbol of friendship. A simple gift that you can use in performing your responsibility (as reporters). Although this is but a small amount, we can say that this call and cell card is a big help in your work," Atienza’s alleged letter, written in Tagalog, said.

The young Atienza denied distributing the letters and accused his political rivals of spreading black propaganda against him.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, candidates are prohibited from handing out items “of value" including money to influence voters’ choice.

Borra warned that political intrigues could become rampant as election day approaches with one candidate destroying the reputation of his rival.

“I would like to urge our friends from the media at this point in time of the election season, political intrigues are very, very prevalent sometimes amounting to character assassination and reputation destruction," Borra said.

He said media should “be very cautious because a candidate would like to impute to the opponent the commission of an alleged crime and that is just a black propaganda."

He asked the reporters’ help to furnish the Comelec a copy of the alleged Atienza letter for verification.

“Once we receive the information we will validate. You know it’s better to be judicious and give every individual due process," he said.

Borra added that Singson, De Venecia and Pacquiao could also be questioned for giving away money and insurance cards among voters.

Singson was caught on camera by GMA News promising to give barangay officials in Nueva Ecija some 50,000 “amulets."

The Ilocos Sur governor was previously lambasted for giving P1,000 each to barangay officials in Misamis Oriental during a campaign sortie.

De Venecia and Pacquiao, on the other hand, handed out insurance cards during their respective campaigns in Pangasinan and South Cotabato.

Borra said these tactics from candidates are not hidden from poll officials who might soon invite erring candidates for questioning.

“We have to be careful because allegations of this kind true or not have very bad implication to our political system," Borra said.

“I have not seen a copy of the insurance cards. It seemed that insurance cards are starting to be popular in this campaign." - GMANews.TV
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