As 66 million voters go to the polls today (May 9), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Sunday appealed to the voters to report to proper authorities immediately any vote buying or vote selling activities in their communities.
More than 18,000 national and local positions will be up for grabs today.
“If you see something suspicious, report it immediately. Do not hesitate to report so that authorities can act on it as soon as possible,’’ Año said in a radio interview in Filipino.
Año said that starting May 8 until the actual election day on Monday, it is the duty of the deployed police officers to enforce the liquor ban and ensure that no all sorts of election campaign activity, like the distribution of political materials, is being done.
“The police will have no second thoughts of arresting violators that is why, we are warning you that the campaign period has ended starting today and at the same time those buying votes will be directly arrested,’’ he added in Filipino.
Año has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to create Anti-Vote Buying Teams in each province and city to receive complaints and investigate allegations of vote-buying and vote-selling in compliance with election laws, rules, and regulations.
“This is a concrete effort of the DILG and PNP to support the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the interagency Task Force Kontra Bigay in ensuring a fraud-free election,” he said.
Año said the Anti-Vote Buying Teams are also tasked to gather and preserve evidence, take statements of witnesses, and protect witnesses or complainants by coordinating with the proper government agencies.
“Evidence-based complaints will be acted upon and will be verified by PNP Anti-Vote Buying Teams and will undergo the same process in gathering evidence. These will be forwarded to the Comelec which has a motu proprio power, or on its own accord, file cases of violation of election laws,” he said in Filipino.
Complaints that are sufficient in form and substance and supported by evidence can be filed by the concerned group before the proper prosecutor’s office, he added.
Año said the Police Regional Offices (PROs) will be collating and monitoring the status and progress of complaints filed before them and to all dedicated Anti-Vote Buying Teams under their jurisdiction, including reports of vote-buying or selling, and update on a regular basis to the National Task Force Kontra Bigay.
The PNP Regional Offices will also include in its collated data a report on the methods and schemes of vote-buying and vote-selling.
In Memorandum Circular 2022-0400, Año directed PNP regional and provincial offices and city and municipal stations to constitute dedicated PNP Anti-Vote Buying Teams in each congressional district, highly urbanized city (HUC), independent component city, and component city.
He said Regional and Provincial Police Offices should assign additional personnel to municipal police stations that lack personnel for this purpose.
Año said the PNP Anti-Vote Buying Teams have been told to inform the public of their mandate and contact details with the support of the local Comelec election officers and the DILG city or municipal local government operations officers.