By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Just a few hours after the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) started, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Occidental received numerous reports on alleged vote buying incidents in the province yesterday.
Atty. Ian Lee Ananoria, Comelec-NegOcc elections supervisor, said most reports and complaints they received were verbal.
However, the concerned citizens reported that they have evidence in support of their complaints.
Ananoria advised them to file a complete formal complaint, including their testimony and evidence, pending the filing of disqualification cases against the involved BSKE candidates.
He said the cases will be filed even if the candidates are declared winners in the polls.
Ananoria said at least one local candidate in the BSKE now faces a disqualification case.
The elections supervisor refused to identify the candidate.
Meanwhile, in San Enrique town, authorities arrested a 59-year-old resident for allegedly engaging in vote-buying activities in Barangay Batuan’s Sitio Nasunugan on Sunday, October 29.
San Enrique police chief, Major Leo Estopa, refused to identify the suspect.
At least 52 sample ballots containing P500 bills, with a total amount of P26,000, were recovered from the suspect.
Estopa said concerned citizens saw the suspect allegedly handing out sample ballots and P500 bills while riding his motorcycle.
He added that the suspect was allegedly a relative of a candidate for barangay captain in the said village.
The suspect could face charges for violating Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, and could face a six-year imprisonment if found guilty.
The violator will also be denied the right to vote and will be prohibited from holding public office./DGB, WDJ