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Too many poll watchers a sign of vote buying – DILG chief

MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said that having too many poll watchers is a sign of vote buying and barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) candidates should follow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution on the maximum number of poll watchers.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 10946, appointing more than two watchers per precinct per candidate is considered vote buying.

“I urge the public to be vigilant and report to the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) or Comelec if the precincts are overflowing with poll watchers. We will investigate that and will act on it accordingly,” Abalos said over the weekend.

Based on the poll body’s observation, candidates would conceal vote buying by hiring many people to serve as poll watchers.

Candidates could face up to six years in prison and possible perpetual disqualification from running for public office if found guilty of vote buying.

Meanwhile, the police and other authorities have been ordered to ensure the safety of passengers who flock to bus terminals on their way to provinces to vote and observe All Saints’ Day, Abalos said.

As of Oct. 28, the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange has recorded over 60,000 commuters in foot traffic and expects to accommodate over 1.6 million travelers from Oct. 27 to Nov. 6.

Poll watch group Legal Network for Truthful Elections is deploying 1,000 volunteers from 45 law schools and other allied groups to help monitor the conduct of the BSKE on Oct. 30.

Volunteers are tasked with monitoring early voting in the cities of Naga and Muntinlupa, mall voting, pilot testing of automated BSKE and voting among indigenous groups.

They will also help vulnerable sectors such as persons with disabilities, the elderly and inmates.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the Catholic Church’s election watchdog, yesterday said it will deploy 100,000 to 300,000 volunteers to 37,259 voting centers nationwide.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has deployed 1,448 traffic enforcers, as well as metro park clearing groups and street sweepers to five major cemeteries across Metro Manila for the BSKE, All Saints’ Day