Abra gov denies vote buying allegations

Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2013 - 2:01pm


BANGUED, Abra – Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin denied his involvement in buying votes to win in the May 2013 polls.

“I do not need to buy votes,” Bersamin told Philippine Star at the Abra provincial board session hall. Earlier, he met Abra and Baguio journalists and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman who visited and met with beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer program in Tineg town on Wednesday.

Voters in Abra are reportedly being bought for P3,000 .

More than a month before the May polls, voters in Bangued,  Abra’s capital town are being bought by a political family for P3,000 each, confirmed Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, who has lodged complaints backed up by documentary evidence to the poll body.

Although Bersamin, allied with President Benigno Aquino III, wanted to keep mum on the issue of rampant vote buying in his home province,  he eventually said he is not involved in the issue.

As of 2010, Abra has 147,615 voters.

For the two-cornered fight, the Abra gubernatorial race is tight, with Bersamin pitted against former ally and representative  a Cecille Luna.

The Comelec is expected to subpoena parties involved in the reported vote buying, Chief Supt. Magalong told Philippine Star.

Aside from buying votes, “terrorism” is one important ingredient being employed in vote buying, a former covert political operator told the Philippine Star. Begging off not to mention names while offering very essential details and information, the operator said after giving out money house to house,  politicians must be able to “guard" those already bought so that they can vote during the D-day.  â€œOtherwise, the opponent will terrorize them and prevent them from going out of their houses to cast their vote before the precincts close at 3 p.m.”

Such instances, he continued, is where violence can erupt as opposing camps employ armed men to either guard or terrorize already bought voters.

“We are on guard,” maintained Abra police director Sr. Supt. Benjamin Lusad.  We are employing various tactics to dissipate tension among the opposing political clans especially in Bangued like constant dialogues and disarmament, he said.

Although most of the alleged private armed groups in the province have been neutralized, Lusad said, there are emerging new ones purposely to serve the bad purposes of this May polls.  â€œMay mga bagong sulpot,”  he said without elaborating.

Just a few days ago, a truck-full of alleged armed goons of a political clan almost chanced upon another group of political foes in an outskirt village in Bangued.  Eight policemen who were alerted reportedly backed off upon seeing the size of their possible adversary in the event of a firefight.

These realities, the former Abra political operator admitted, are still much in the province even as common people want to overcome such.  Sometimes, they cannot do anything but get the money because the barrel of the gun is knocked on their doorsteps, he said. 

Much as some politicians also wants to shun these dirty old practices,  a single politician who employs it triggers another to counter it “to protect his supporters and votes."  Such is the web of dirty politics, he said.

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