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Duterte admits vote buying can't be controlled

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte admits vote buying can't be controlled
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP- Laban) campaign rally on Congressional Road in Caloocan City on April 19, 2022.
Presidential photo / Valerie Escalera

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that the buying of votes cannot be controlled but vowed to prevent violence and to run after politicians with private armies to ensure that the May elections will be credible.

Duterte called on both his political allies and rivals to "behave," reminding them that the conduct of peaceful elections is a must.

He reiterated that he won't tolerate terrorism but claimed that vote-buying, one of the prohibited acts under the election code, cannot be controlled.  

"With regard to vote buying, you cannot control that because it involves the distribution of envelopes. But if you terrorize, you send goons, that's a different story. We will clash. Whether you belong to my party or not, you know, behave," the president said during a PDP-Laban campaign rally in Caloocan Tuesday night.

"Do not terrorize the people, the elections must be free and it must be credible," he added.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, vote buying is committed if a person gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election. 

Any person found guilty of the election offense may face imprisonment that lasts for one year to six years without probation. A guilty party will also be disqualified from holding public office and will be deprived of the right to vote.

Crackdown vs private armies

Duterte also vowed to impose limits on the number of armed bodyguards that a politician can employ. He said he would adopt the Alunan doctrine, wherein a politician is viewed as having a private army if he or she has more than two armed bodyguards.

"To the candidates, I repeat, you can only have two (bodyguards). My order to (Interior) Secretary (Eduardo) Año and to the police, to the military, the Alunan doctrine...more than two with firearms, whether long or short, you are already a private army. I said, 'Arrest them,'" Duterte said, referring to former interior secretary Rafael Alunan III.

"If they are just your companions and they have no firearms, that's OK. But if it's like in Mindanao, where there are three or four vehicles filled with people displaying (firearms) on every trip, I won't allow it," he added.

Duterte said he has ordered government forces to run after politicians and their private armies.

"I will arrest you myself. I will come to you," the president said.

"I will only be President once. I do not want to commit mistakes, especially when you begin to tinker with the elections," he added. 

2022 ELECTIONS

PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE

VOTE BUYING

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