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Comelec confirms over 100 vote-buying incidents among 2023 BSKE bets

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections has confirmed more than 100 cases of election candidates engaged in vote-buying ahead of the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, its chairperson said on Friday.

Comelec Chairperson George Garcia said that the more than 100 confirmed incidents of vote-buying are currently being verified for the filing of charges against the erring candidates, according to his interview with GMA’s Unang Balita.

The Comelec will also suspend the proclamation of winning candidates with pending cases of vote-buying as well as premature and illegal campaigning.

“(The candidates who win) will not be proclaimed immediately. They are probably thinking the Comelec is not serious, so we will not proclaim those with pending cases,” Garcia said in Filipino.

Garcia explained that there are two possible cases that can be filed in connection to confirmed incidents of vote-buying: one for the candidate buying votes, and another for voters willingly “selling” their vote.

Buying votes can result in the candidates’ disqualification and imprisonment for one to six years. Vote sellers, meanwhile, may get the same length of jail time.

“But if they speak up about vote-buying incidents, they can be excluded from the punishment and made a state witness,” Garcia said.

Garcia also reminded the public to scrutinize the BSKE candidates well and to not be duped by vote-buying tactics.

“They should know that there are candidates who attempt to buy votes because they are not well known and not supported. Therefore we should not allow them to have their way,” Garcia said. 

On Thursday, Comelec personnel and the Navotas City police arrested an individual from Navotas City suspected to be distributing envelopes of up to P500 to at least 200 registered voters in Barangay Logos. — with reports by The STAR / Mark Ernest Villeza