Comelec spox sees no criminal liability for Robredo over vote buying advice

Comelec spox sees no criminal liability for Robredo over vote buying advice
Vice President Leni Robredo announces in a press conference that she will run for president in the 2022 elections.
Philstar.com / Jazmin Tabuena

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez said Thursday that he sees no criminal liability on the part of Vice President Leni Robredo over her advice to accept money from politicians soliciting votes but still vote for whoever they desire.

“I think it is not something that should have been said. But in terms of criminal liability, I don’t see it,” Jimenez told CNN Philippines’ “The Source.”

Robredo said Tuesday in a forum with household service workers or kasambahays that while vote buying is wrong and should be punished, people can accept the money being offered to them but still vote according to what their conscience dictates.

Senatorial aspirant and controversial lawyer Larry Gadon on Wednesday called on the Comelec to probe into and disqualify Robredo from the presidential race for supposedly promoting and encouraging vote buying.

FROM INTERAKSYON: Disbarment complaints vs senatorial aspirant Larry Gadon

Robredo did not promote and encourage vote buying and is in fact against it. She said Wednesday that she wants authorities to ramp up their enforcement against the practice that has plagued elections in the country.

Accepting money still an election offense

Robredo’s fellow presidential aspirants, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso and former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, have also made similar suggestions in the past.

“To that, I would say then we have to probe everyone who ever said that. And remember it’s not just one person who has said that. Multiple candidates have said that. So do we probe everyone?” Jimenez said.

Still, he said that accepting money from vote-buyers is a punishable election offense, even if people end up voting for whoever they want.

“The election offense is when you accept something in exchange for your vote. The act of accepting in itself is a crime. It does not have to end up on what you agreed upon,” Jimenez said in Filipino.

The Omnibus Election Code prohibits soliciting and accepting “any expenditure or promise or any office, or employment, public or private” in exchange for votes. — Xave Gregorio

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