January 29, 2023

The Commission on Elections-Cordillera has urged residents to file a formal complaint in their office for any case of votebuying.

Comelec-Benguet Election Supervisor Dexter Cawis said his office received some complaints regarding alleged vote buying of a certain candidate in the province.

He, however, clarified the complaint was only through text messages.

“We urge the public to file a case in black and white in our office with their evidence on vote buying. Otherwise it will only remain as hearsay,” Cawis said.

In a separate press conference, Comelec-Abra Election Supervisor Ricardo Lampac said filing a formal complaint would also help the Comelec and the Philippine National Police to have a basis to conduct their investigation.

He cited instances where the authorities cannot simply get inside private residences where alleged vote buying is being conducted.

“The best we can do is to show our presence. If they are doing something illegal, they would stop, but if there is no (search) warrant, we would be the ones in trouble.We have to take precautions as well,” Lampac said.

Both Comelec supervisors, however, said they are acting on the complaints received by their municipal and provincial offices even if it is through informal complaints.

Cases of alleged vote buying of different local candidates on both provinces have been circulating on various social media.

Earlier, Bangued mayoral candidate Mary Ann Bersamin has called for the replacement of police personnel in Abra.

She accused the police of giving protection to politicians who are buying votes in the province.

The mayoral race in Bangued is a three-cornered fight among Bersamin, former mayor Ryan Luna, and incumbent Vice Mayor Mila Valera.

Mila is the wife of incumbent mayor Dominic Valera, who is running for governor and mother of incumbent Abra Gov. Jocelyn Bernos, who is running for vice governor.

On politicians taking advantage of government programs for their campaigns, Cawis said these programs, such as the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tupad program and other programs in DSWD, are continuously being implemented.

He said political candidates must not be the ones giving away this government assistance to the public during the election campaign. – Ofelia C. Empian