MANILA, May 13 (PNA) -- Liberal Party secretary-general Mel Sarmiento on Monday decried the reported vote-buying attempt by men believed to be from the camp of United Nationalist Alliance gubernatorial candidate in Iloilo Ferjenel Biron, saying “it is a brazen attempt to thwart the will of the electorate.”
According to an LP press statement, a barangay captain in Dumangas, Iloilo, Arbuez Gonzaga, and another cohort, Robitze de Ocampo, were caught by Iloilo police led by Police Senior Inspector Jonathan Pinuela in the act of buying votes while inside a barangay hall of Dumangas Sunday.
Recovered from them were 39 pieces of white short envelopes containing P300 each with the names of their intended beneficiaries written on them. Also seized were sample ballots with prints belonging to Biron and other candidates running under UNA.
“It is disheartening to note that the opposing camp had to resort to these foul tactics just to ensure their victory. This is a clear case of vote-buying, which is against the very essence of democracy,” Sarmiento said.
Biron, the incumbent representative of Iloilo’s fourth district, is running against Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr., whose re-election bid has been endorsed by no less than President Aquino.
Biron was the sixth most absent lawmaker in the 15th Congress in the House of Representatives as of November last year.
Asked for his reaction on the vote-buying reports, Defensor said: “The candidate who buys votes has no accountability to the people, thus, we cannot expect full commitment and real good governance from that politician.”
No less than President Aquino has ordered a stepped-up campaign against vote-buying particularly in the provinces, during a command conference with the AFP and the PNP prior to the elections.
The Commission on Elections, in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Governments headed by Interior and local government secretary Mar Roxas, has deputized police and military personnel to ensure peaceful and orderly elections.
The DILG has also created Task Force SAFE (Secure and Fair Elections) to make sure that the midterm polls would be safe and fair. (Jelly F Musico/Lily O Ramos/Media Ng Bayan)