Vote-buying is not limited to giving cash but also includes handing out promotional items, such as lighters, mugs, umbrellas, shirts, and even food.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes made this clear on Friday.
But candidates need not worry for now, Brillantes said, because the commission won’t clamp down on vote-buying until a few days before May 13, election day.
At any rate, he said candidates must account for the promotional items in their campaign expense reports, as the Comelec’s Campaign Finance Unit will keep track of them.
To iron out guidelines on vote buying, the Comelec sitting en banc will release a resolution 10 days before election day.
“Pinag-aaralan lang namin yung mga [We’re just studying the] constitutional issues,” he said. “Pag natuloy siguro baka wala nang [If it pushes through maybe there won’t be any] vote-buying.”
He admitted that it would be difficult to catch violators red-handed because of the thin-line separating giving away promotional items and vote-buying.
“Eh wala nga tayong mai-prove na namimigay ng pera, yun pang ano… [We can’t even prove them giving money, what more this]” he said. “[It’s a] matter of evidence. Tingnan natin. Kaya nga kung meron silang ebidensiya eh.di iko-consider natin. Kaya nga hanggang ngayon wala pang nakukulong sa vote-buying eh. Ako malapit na akong magpakulong – basta may ebidensiya [We’ll see. So if there’s evidence we will consider it. Up to now we haven’t put anyone in jail for vote-buying. I may soon have some people jailed – as long as there’s evidence].
By Patricia Ongsiako Solar News