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Governor, 13 mayors face vote-buying probe

MANILA, Philippines — A governor and 13 mayors from Luzon are being investigated for alleged vote-buying activities in connection with yesterday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Garcia said the poll body is “investigating one governor and 13 mayors because (the reported vote-buying incidents) were conducted right inside their houses and premises.”

The Comelec chief stressed that local government officials should not interfere with the BSKE.

“We have reminded them (LGU officials) to not interfere with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections because, if they do, it would only create problems in the election,” he said.

Garcia said the Comelec, upon receiving reports of vote buying, immediately deployed election officers to investigate. Several of these reports turned out to be “fake news.”

According to Commissioner Ernest Maceda, the Comelec received “a total of 168 reports of vote-buying,” with 28 cases of that number filed prior to the elections.

Maceda said the 168 vote-buying reports is much lower compared to the over 1,200 complaints received during the May 2022 elections.

As of yesterday, he said the Comelec was preparing the filing of vote-buying charges against 46 BSKE candidates, adding that 94 complaints are still being evaluated and remain pending for resolution.

“You draw your conclusion from that, but for us this is a very positive and encouraging sign that our efforts have borne fruit,” Maceda said.

For this year’s poll, Garcia noted that the Comelec has not received any report of vote buying using the digital wallet platform. This development, he added, could be attributed to the Comelec’s intensified campaign.