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Comelec probing almost 1,000 vote-buying incidents —Garcia

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is investigating almost a thousand alleged vote-buying cases in relation to the conduct of the May 2022 national and local elections, poll Commissioner George Garcia said on Monday.

In an ANC interview, Garcia disclosed that the Comelec has already issued subpoenas instructing the people involved to explain the vote-buying claims. Meanwhile, the disqualification cases against certain candidates for the same reasons are also up for a resolution after they provide answers.

“In the case of vote-buying, we have almost 1,000 cases being investigated and we have several subpoenas issued, requiring the respondents to explain,” he said.

“In the case of disqualification cases involving practically the same fraud and irregularities, the cases are now submitted for resolution after the respondents required to file their answer,” he added.

In a message to reporters, acting poll spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco reported that as of 11:30 a.m. on May 30, the Comelec’s Task Force Kontra Bigay has received at least 1,100 vote-buying reports–940 of which were sent through the Kontra Bigay Facebook page, while 171 were from the Kontra Bigay official email.

Out of the 171 emails, the poll body said 88 could be considered valid reports and have been officially recorded. Of these 88 recorded reports, only 49 were submitted with supporting evidence.

There were 210 concerned citizens who were thus urged by the poll body to file their affidavit, together with their evidence, for a possible motu proprio case against the persons involved in vote buying or selling allegations.

However, of these 210 individuals, only three are willing to pursue their complaints, Comelec pointed out.

Asked for the possible reasons for these low turnout of complainants who want to push through with the case, Laudiangco said, “Hindi po nila sinasabi [they would not explain why]. We could only think of various reasons po perhaps from fear or just general refusal to be fully involved po.”

Report also showed that 105 of the vote-buying complaints were lodged in the Comelec Law Department. Of this number, 83 were already acted upon.

The Comelec Law Department has also docketed 12 verified complaints–11 of these were endorsed to the poll body’s field office for the conduct of preliminary investigation, while the other one case is now filed at the Law Department for preliminary investigation.

Under Section 14 of Republic Act 7166, every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within 30 days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Commission the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures (SOCE) in connection with the election.

The law also prohibits an elected candidate from entering upon the duties of his office until he has filed the SOCE. The same prohibition applies to political parties which nominated the winning candidate. — BM, GMA News