âName names in electioneeringâ
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III asked yesterday the DILG to go after candidates allegedly involved in vote-buying and other election-related violations.
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‘Name names in electioneering’

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the House of Representatives challenged yesterday Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Martin Diño to identify the 100 congressmen who allegedly engaged in electioneering during last Monday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. 

“I think Diño should let his hands do the talking, not his mouth, by filing cases against those who violated election laws in the recent barangay polls,” said Rep. Tom Villarin of party-list Akbayan. 

“The DILG should know better and be prepared to prevent or even mitigate these things from happening prior to the elections through a vigorous information drive about the non-partisan nature of barangay elections,” he said. 

Another militant lawmaker, Rep. Emmi de Jesus of women’s group Gabriela, said it would be unfair if Diño would not support his statement with concrete action because this suggests that all members of the House are suspects.

“Better for Martin to name names of (those) involved in these mentioned election anomalies. (Trapo or traditional politicians are at) work again,” she said, implying that these politicians have succeeded once again in corrupting and influencing the outcome of the polls.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III asked yesterday the DILG to go after candidates allegedly involved in vote-buying and other election-related violations.

Pimentel said the DILG should not tarry by conducting investigations but just undertake “immediate action” based on the evidence it has against the alleged violators.

He said it would be best if the DILG filed charges to set an example to candidates in the coming elections and “teach them a lesson.”

“Whether partymate or not, it doesn’t matter. If there are violations of election law, file cases,” Pimentel said.

Diño, for his part, said he would first gather more evidence before naming the lawmakers allegedly involved in vote-buying and other illegal activities.

The DILG official admitted that while he has received text messages from concerned citizens claiming that at least 100 lawmakers were involved in vote-buying and other illegal activities during the election season, these should be substantiated by concrete evidence before they are named.

“Otherwise, it would be unfair to (these lawmakers),” he said in a phone interview yesterday.

Diño said he has entertained all complaints sent to his office, adding that they are in the process of gathering evidence.

As far as  Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano is concerned, President Duterte should have set an example “by participating in political processes,” in apparent reference to the Chief Executive’s decision to skip voting because all of the candidates were his friends. 

“It might not be his intention, but the decision not to vote in the barangay and SK elections sends a message of undermining the significance of the basic democratic practice – suffrage,” he said. 

As this developed, two reelectionist barangay chairmen in Cagayan are facing investigations before the Comelec for allegedly buying votes in the towns of Gonzaga and Aparri.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 2 director Chief Supt. Mario Espino said Arturo Alvarez and Nemesio Furagganan of Sta. Cruz, Gonzaga and Dodan, Aparri, respectively, were accused of distributing P300 to P500 on the eve and early morning hours of election day.

The candidates won the election, but Espino claimed that cases for violation of the Omnibus Election Code have been filed against them.

Meanwhile, eight incidents of vote buying in Western Visayas are now subject of an investigation by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP.

Peaceful polls, good turnout

The DILG yesterday lauded over 1,000 police officers who served as board of election tellers (BETs) in the elections.

“The courage and selflessness of the PNP personnel who served as BET members across the country are admirable and worthy of commendation,” DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año said in a statement.

Año said 1,104 police officers served as BETs in Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region and Calabarzon, when the assigned teachers failed to report or backed out because of security problems.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, meantime, congratulated all the winners of the barangay and SK elections.

“Remember that (you) were chosen by your constituents based on your platform of government and upholding democracy in the 42,000 barangays in the country,” he said.

For its part, the Comelec yesterday described the voter-turnout in last Monday’s elections as “good.”

But Comelec acting chairman Al Parreño could not provide figures, claiming that they were still collating data from field offices as of press time.

“I don’t want to give numbers unless we have validated them,” he said in a press conference late last Monday.

For his part, Comelec commissioner Sheriff Abas suspected a possible failure of elections in a polling precinct in Northern Samar. The poll body, however, added that they are waiting for reports from its field officers.   

The proclamation of winning candidates was slightly slower than expected, an official of the Comelec revealed yesterday.

“We were optimistic with our projections that a majority of proclamations would be done within (election day) but then again, it’s still within the time frame of up to 32 hours after the elections,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters.            

The Comelec was expecting that by 8 p.m. last night, all of the winning candidates shall have been proclaimed.

While the barangay and SK polls were generally peaceful, the PNP has recorded 57 violent incidents believed related to the elections since April 14.

But PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said election day was successful with the security coverage they provided at the polling precincts.

“We can say now that it was a really big success. Our countrymen were able to vote properly without threats to them,” he said in a news briefing at Camp Crame yesterday.

“I’m personally satisfied with the outcome of all election security operations by PNP units despite the long duty hours that commenced last May 11 when we placed the entire PNP under full alert to assume election duties,” he added.

Albayalde said they would continue to perform their duties as deputies of the Comelec until the end of the election period on May 21.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo agreed with Albayalde, declaring that the conduct of elections was peaceful.

Arevalo added that “no major incident had transpired that could have disrupted the election process.”

The AFP Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) confirmed Arevalo’s assessment yesterday, saying the polls in all regions north of Metro Manila were “generally peaceful.”

In a statement, Nolcom added that its forces were “deployed in strategic locations as deputized by the (Comelec) and in coordination with other concerned agencies, to ensure the security of polling places and safety of voters.”

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the DILG said it would only issue certificates of recognition to elected barangay and SK officials who test negative for drugs.

Kirby Abdullah, regional secretary of the DILG-ARMM, yesterday said winners also need to submit their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, personal data sheets and copies of certificate of poll canvass authenticated by election officials in their provinces. – With Paolo Romero, Sheila Crisostomo, Ding Cervantes, Raymund Catindig, John Unson, Ramon Lazaro, Emmanuel Tupas, Jennifer Rendon  

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