Navotas bet hits ‘brusque’ NBI raid on poll seminar

Marc Jason Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - May 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The family of a former Navotas mayor cried foul over a raid conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for alleged vote buying on what the family described as a seminar for their poll watchers.

Councilor Marielle del Rosario, who is running for the lone congressional district, said in an interview yesterday that the NBI conducted a “massive raid” on a seminar attended by 500 people and held at a covered court in Bacog, Barangay Daanghari on Sunday.

Asked if their opponents are behind the unauthorized search, she said: “Who else has the capacity to call for a vote buying raid? As much as we don’t want to blame our opponents, it leaves us with no other choice.”

She is running for the lone Navotas district against outgoing Mayor John Rey Tiangco, whose brother outgoing Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco is seeking to reclaim the mayoral seat. The Tiangco siblings switched places in this year’s race.

Marielle’s father Felipe del Rosario said he was at the seminar when around eight NBI agents barged in, armed with rifles and without a search warrant, allegedly upon a tip there was vote buying in the seminar.

Felipe was appointed mayor of Navotas after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt and was elected in 1998.

He said the P500 bills seized in the raid were allowances for their poll watchers, not bribe money for their votes.

“If it had been vote buying, the people should have scampered away during the raid. But no, they just watched, because it was just a seminar,” Felipe’s wife Lit said.

A woman was injured when the agents forced open the gate, Felipe said.

“They did not even gave us courtesy. They just barged in. They raided the event brusquely. It was a good thing we had a lawyer present,” Felipe said.

The family’s counsel, Emil Marañon III, posted photos of the raid on Twitter as he encouraged netizens to be vigilant of their rights against warrantless searches and the “weaponization of the law.”

Lita Abordo, one of Del Rosario’s staff, was brought to the NBI headquarters for questioning after the raid but was later cleared of the vote buying allegation, Marañon said.

“This is a lesson that we never cower and we always fight for our rights,” Marañon said on Twitter.

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