PNP creates special teams vs. vote-buying

Special teams of policemen were formed to go after individuals engaged in vote buying and vote selling in connection with tomorrow’s synchronized national and local elections.

The teams—created in every city and provincial police command unit—are also tasked to investigate, gather evidence, and protect the witnesses in vote-buying activities.

“This is a concrete effort of the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police to support the Commission on PNP…Elections and the interagency Task Force Kontra Bigay in ensuring a fraud-free election,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.

“Evidence-based complaints will be acted upon and verified by the PNP Anti-Vote Buying Teams and will go through the same process of gathering evidence. These will be forwarded to the Comelec which has a motu proprio power, or on its own accord, file cases of violation of election laws,” he added.

The Comelec on Saturday said it is investigating at least 10 cases of alleged vote-buying.

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The cases are among the “numerous reports and complaints of vote-buying” received by the Comelec via its official email address and Facebook page.

Comelec said Task Force Kontra Bigay, headed by Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, will conduct a probe into the alleged vote-buying and vote-selling incidents.

Citizens may file complaints of alleged vote-buying and vote-selling with the Office of the Election Officer and the Department of Justice through the National Prosecution Service. They may also seek assistance from the PNP, IBP, Lente, and Task Force Kontra Bigay in the preparation and filing of complaints.

Vote-buying, according to Section 261 of the Election Code, happens when a person “gives, offers or promises money or anything of value” in order to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate.

Vote-buying is an election offense, which carries a penalty of one-to six years imprisonment as well as the removal of one’s right to vote and be voted.

In 2013, the Comelec disqualified two local candidates—one in Roxas, Isabela and another in Norzagaray, Bulacan—for vote buying.

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