Only 1 of 10 vote buying incidents reported to Comelec deemed ‘valid’

ONLY 1 out of every 10 reports of vote buying incidents received by the Commission on Election (Comelec) were “valid” reports. 

Based on data from its anti-vote buying taskforce, Comelec received over 1,000 vote buying reports from its Facebook page and email. 

Of these reports, 88 were deemed valid and have been officially recorded, while only 49 were submitted with supporting evidence. 

In a press conference, Comelec Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino explained they cannot probe most of the reported cases due to lack of supporting evidence. 

She also noted that most of the cases were not related to vote buying or vote selling and instead involved the viral videos on alleged irregularities in the conduct of the May 9, 2022  polls. 

“We cannot act on just mere complaints. As we have said, we need supporting evidence and someone who will testify [against the vote buyer],” Ferolino said. 

“Without these requirements, we don’t know where to start [our investigation] if you just give us complaints,” she added. 

The cases which are already being investigated by the Comelec, Ferolino said, involves some candidates and also their supporters.

Despite the low number of investigated cases, Ferolino noted Comelec’s taskforce against vote buying, which she heads, is actually up to a good start for a newly created group within the poll body. 

She is hopes it will be able to handle and act on more vote buying cases in future elections, especially as more people become aware of it. 

The poll official said a particular feature of their task force that  would like to highlight is that it can provide immunity to vote sellers who will become witnesses against vote-buyers. 

Under the Omnibus Election Code, both vote-buying and vote-selling are considered election offenses. 

She noted the immunity may be able to persuade more people to testify against more vote buyers.

“In the coming elections, we expect more brave people to come out and testify,” Ferolino said.

Image credits: Roy Domingo

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