BARANGAY ELECTIONS: MASSIVE VOTE BUYING / PEACEFUL POLLS IN MANILA

Also: Liquor also offered in several villages / Violence mars village polls


WHERE’S MY NAME? People search for their names on a registered voters’ list posted on a blackboard at President Corazon Aquino Elementary School on Batasan Road in Batasan Hills, Quezon City. Some 54 million Filipinos were expected to cast their votes during Monday’s barangay elections. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, OCTOBER 29, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Fernan Gianan, Doris Bongac, Inquirer Southern Luzon, Inquirer Visayas -

Candidates across the country pulled out all the stops as a single vote could spell defeat or victory in close contests in villages where the number of registered voters ranged from a few hundreds to a few thousands.

As a result, massive vote-buying was reported in Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, northern Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas and Western Visayas, as well as in Metro Manila.

Vote-buying was the norm in electoral contests in all 315 barangays in Catanduanes province, with candidates giving away anything from a sachet of 3-in-1 coffee and noodles to P10 worth of “pan de sal” and outright cash of as much as P1,000 per voter.

In Barangay San Pedro in Virac, the capital town, where there are 243 registered voters, a candidate allegedly gave P1,000 per vote, while in the neighboring village of San Jose, with the smallest voting population of 179, two rivals for barangay chair offered at least P400 for each vote.

In San Isidro village with more than a thousand voters, the biggest on the island, the five-way race for barangay chair had the front-runners offering at least P300 per voter.

The practice of buying votes was fanned by former provincial and municipal elective officials who wanted their previous posts using the backdoor by being elected barangay chair and subsequently becoming ex-officio council members as presidents of the Liga ng mga Barangay municipal chapter.

Among those running were former Catanduanes Board Member Rafael Zuniega, and former Virac Councilors Lemuel Surtida and Rene Abella. Zuniega and Abella lost their reelection bids in May, while Surtida had already completed his third term.
In Albay, citizen election watchers observed vote-buying in almost all villages of the province’s 15 towns and three cities.

The amounts given by candidates for barangay chair ranged from P50 to P2,000 per voter, while those running for a seat on the seven-member village council, the amounts ranged from P20 to P500 per voter. The amount was dependent on the size of a barangay and the number of voters.

Vote-buying was also reported in Masbate, Cavite, Quezon and Laguna provinces.

In Bulacan province, Hajii Pacheco, a candidate for barangay captain of Bancal in Meycauayan City, filed a disqualification case against his rival, Mariano Alarilla, for alleged vote-buying.

Bottles of wine

Pacheco said his supporters had recovered bottles of wine with the name and photograph of Alarilla on the labels. He said they also recovered envelopes containing P400 from the rival camp.

Tarlac Election Supervisor Fernando Cot-om said there were reports of vote-buying in San Jose town and in Tarlac City, but he asked complainants to execute affidavits so the Comelec could investigate.

In Nueva Ecija, residents reported that vote-buying was rampant in several barangays. They said some candidates for village chair had distributed from P500 to P1,000 to voters.

In Abra province, undercover police officers documented cases of vote-buying in the towns of Dolores, Tayum and the capital town of Bangued, according to Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police chief.

Mandaue, Cebu, Talisay

In Mandaue City at 9 p.m. on Sunday, the village of Alang-alang was still abuzz.

The doors of houses were opened. Some residents had formed into small groups and were discussing on whom to vote.

But they were actually waiting for their political leaders to drop by and turn over their “pahalipay” (gratuity) that ranged from P50 to P100 each.

In a family of six, three were given P100 each stapled to a sample ballot that contained the names of candidates. The money was in crisp P50 bills.

The political leader explained that the family members would have to divide the money among themselves since they could not give money to everybody.

Earlier that day, two more political leaders visited the village. One had P40 clipped to a sample ballot while the other had a crisp P50 bill.

Most expensive so far

The amount for pahalipay in Cebu City was bigger.

One candidate for councilor from a northern barangay in Cebu City said he spent close to P80,000 on Sunday at P50 per voter. This didn’t include the P100 that his group was giving to those who had committed to vote for his entire slate.

“This is the most expensive election so far,” said a two-term barangay councilor.

An outgoing barangay captain from a Cebu City mountain barangay said opponents offered P300 to P500 per voter. “They are spending so they will win,” said the barangay captain, who is now running for barangay councilor.

The barangay chief said this was the first time since the 2002 elections that vote-buying again surfaced.

Proxy war

He added that the barangay elections were like a proxy war between reelected Mayor Michael Rama and Tomas Osmeña, Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) leader and a former mayor.

Cebu City has 80 barangays, 34 in the south district and 46 in the north.

Rama declined to comment on reports of vote-buying and the possible proxy war. Osmeña was in Italy attending the wedding of a close friend and was scheduled to be back on Tuesday.

Cebu City south district election officer Edwin Cadungog said his office had received reports of vote-buying in almost all barangays but these had to be verified.

However, radio reports showed that vote-buying ranged from P20 to P200 per voter.

Citizen’s arrest

Two women were arrested on Saturday afternoon on suspicion of vote-buying in Talisay City, Cebu, said PO1 Reuben Samson of the Talisay police.

Mary Geraga, 19, and Edita Alo, 49, were arrested through a citizen’s arrest by Xyrus Allan Bucao, 31, and Clint Gonzaga, of San Isidro Talisay.

The police seized 44 pieces of sample ballots enclosed with P150 from Geraga and 22 pieces of sample ballots from Alo.
Samson said the two were released and the complainants were told to file a case in the Comelec Talisay City office.

There were also reports of vote-buying in Argao town, Barangay Day-as in Cordova and Compostela towns in Cebu. The amounts involved ranged from P50 to P200.

In Eastern Visayas, P40 to P1,000 were given to voters, depending on the post being sought by candidates.

Candidates for councilor in Tacloban City, Leyte province, gave P40 to P100 to each voter while those running for barangay chair shelled out P200 to P1,000 for each voter.

Financing from ‘loan shark’

A candidate seeking a council seat in Tacloban said she applied for a loan from a “loan shark” just to finance her bid.
She gave P100 to each voter. The village has more than 800 registered voters.

Each vote reportedly cost P300 in Maasin City, Southern Leyte province.

Vote-buying was massive in one town in Eastern Samar where candidates for councilor gave as much as P400, while those running for barangay chair offered up to P800, local radio reports said.

Bacolod

There were also reports of vote-buying in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental province.

Nelson Ligaya, barangay chair of Barangay 16 in Bacolod, said he received reports that his opponent was distributing P500 per voter and P1,000 to each family head.

Comelec Provincial Election Officer Jesse Suarez noted reports of persons caught using carbon paper as they wrote the names of their candidates at the polling center in Pandanon, Murcia, allegedly as proof of payment of their votes, Suarez said.—With reports from Maricar Cinco, Romulo O. Ponte, Shiena Barrameda, Jofel Lancion, Juan Escandor Jr., Marrah Erika Lesaba, Madonna Virola, Mar Arguelles and Delfin Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; Desiree Caluza, Melvin Gascon, Villamor Visaya Jr., Leilanie Adriano and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Jo Martinez-Clemente, Tonette Orejas, Anselmo Roque, Armand Galang, Carmela Reyes-Estrope and Cesar Villa, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Jhunnex Napallacan, Jani Arnaiz, Joey Gabieta and Carla Gomez, Inquirer Visayas

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Violence mars village polls Brillantes Satisfied; PNP Says Elections Generally Peaceful by Aaron B. Recuenco and Leslie Ann Aquino October 29, 2013 (updated)

Manila, Philippines – From burning of school to ambuscades, pockets of violence erupted a day before and during the barangay election yesterday but the Philippine National Police (PNP) declared that those incidents, including the death of five people, are too few and too insignificant to affect the outcome of the elections on a national scale.

The PNP also reported that this year’s violence, including incidents during the campaign period, was worse than the barangay elections in 2010, when 15 people were killed.

Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP public information chief, said police have recorded 40 violent incidents, where 22 people were killed from September until October 27, compared to only 25 in 2010.

Of the incidents, 32 are shooting incidents, one strafing, and three stabbing incident. A total of 73 people became victims, 22 of them died while 37 others were wounded, and eight are missing. Eleven of the fatalities were incumbent barangay officials

Despite the violence that marred yesterday’s elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was satisfied with the manner by which it was conducted.

Brillantes Satisfied

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body is satisfied, especially since majority of the problems encountered – ballot-snatching, harassments, use of flying voters, missing ballots, strafing, and other forms of violence – were minor.

He cited the ballot-snatching in Barangay San Antonio, Catubig, Northern Samar which was immediately resolved with the use of improvised ballots.

He said the use of an improvised ballot is part of their contingency measure. The improvised ballots were initialled by the election officers.

“Any paper pero initialan nila yun. Nasa contingency plan namin yan,” said Brillantes.

The poll body also received another report on ballot-snatching in Basilan, particularly in Barangay Bukut-Umus, Tabuan-Lasa.

Generally Peaceful

Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas, PNP deputy chief for Operations and concurrent commander of the Task Force Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE), said all the monitoring they conducted through their field commanders indicated generally peaceful elections.

There were 7,100 barangays listed as areas of concern and areas of immediate concern but it was Maguindanao, Basilan, Bukidnon, and Lanao del Sur where more than three cases of violent incidents were reported.

School Burned


SULTAN KUDARAT. Maguindanao – Fire destroyed the municipal headquarters of the Liberal Party in Barangay Bulalo here at around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Mangudadatu is seeking reelection against Sultan Kudarat Mayor Tucao Mastura of the United Nationalist Alliance. In Maguindanao, unidentified men burned on Sunday the Buldon Elementary School in an attempt to postpone the elections in the town but only four classrooms were damaged. In Kudarat. (Ferdinandh Cabrera)

Senior Supt. Rodelio Jocson, director of the Maguindanao police, said the elections went on yesterday using the other classrooms.

In Basilan, two cases of strafing were monitored in Barangay Tong-Umus in Tabuan-Lasa town which police said were both election related.

Senior Supt. Mario Dapilloza, director of the Basilan police, said the election officer assigned in Barangay Bulanting decided to withdraw from the area due to the commotion.

Candidate Shot

At around 2 p.m. yesterday, Dapilloza said they also monitored ballot-snatching in Barangay Boheyusak in Ungkaya Pukan town. A candidate for barangay chairman was also shot and wounded in Barangay Kamamburingan also in Ungkaya Pukan town.

At about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, an explosion occurred at the house of Satar Kabunto in Barangay Gocotan, Pikit, North Cotabato. Kabunto, who is running for barangay chairman in their area, was unharmed.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID), said the explosive was believed to have been fired from an M79 40mm grenade launcher.

Voting in at least 13 barangays in Pikit only started at about 1 p.m. after some confusions and refusal of public school teachers to serve due to security concerns.

As a result, soldiers and policemen became instant poll officials in voting that had been delayed for five hours.

In Negros Occidental, two people died while another one was injured in an ambush in Barangay Poblacion in Toboso town.

Critical Stage

Rojas said all police personnel were ordered to remain in their posts until the entire electoral process ended.

“The canvassing of votes and the proclamation of winners are the most critical part,” said Rojas.

“Police security forces are under specific instructions to remain in their posts to provide security to the election activities until after completion and termination of the proceedings,” said Sindac.

Special mention on the instructions is the nearly 1,700 policemen who served as Special Board of Election Tellers (SBET) in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu.

Be Vigilant

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. called on the public to remain vigilant during the counting of the ballots.

He emphasized that the true voice of the people must prevail in the ballot count.

Delayed Delivery

In some areas, delayed arrival of election paraphernalia caused delays in several barangays in Vinzon, Camarines Sur; and in Calayan, Cagayan. In Calayan, the elections was postponed to October 30 and 31.

The sinking of a motorbike carrying voting materials prompted the production of emergency ballots in Barangay Mahabang Sapa, Cuartero, Capiz.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting said a number of voters were disenfranchised as their names were not in the voters’ list.

Flying Voters

In Caloocan City, at least six suspected flying voters were arrested inside a polling place in Barangay Biglang-Awa, Caloocan City.

Police said they are residents of Barangay Bagumbog and belong to a group of persons aboard a jeep which voted in Barangay Biglang-Awa.

In Makati, police rounded up suspected “flying voters” while several residents complained of fictitious names of voters using their addresses in Barangay San Lorenzo.

BEI Officer With 50 Ballots

Also in Makati, police arrested Jeffrey Barrios, 28, a male member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), after he was caught in possession of 50 blank official ballots inside the comfort room of the Pio Del Pilar Elementary School in Barangay Pio Del Pilar, a village included in the Comelec’s list of areas of concern in the 2013 barangay polls.

Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban, Makati City police chief, said Barrios was appointed as third BEI, assigned at Poblacion Elementary School.

Cops In Polling Precincts

Still in Makati, police were allowed to enter some polling centers in Barangay San Lorenzo and Carmona, listed as areas of concerns, following the requests of the Board of Election Supervisors.

“There was a commotion between election parties, poll watchers prodding us to heed to the request and maintain peace and order,” said Lukban. (With reports from Elena L. Aben, Ed Mahilum, Anna Liza V. Alavaren, Francis T. Wakefield, Edd K. Usman, Genalyn D. Kabiling, and AFP)

Illegal Gun Possession

In Pasig City, Ferdinand Patawid, 39, of Camia St., Makati City, was arrested for illegal possession of silver Taurus short pistol with ammunition and a folding knife five hours before the opening of the barangay elections.

In Taguig, residents of Maharlika Village balked at the branding of their barangay as an area opf concern, saying yesterday’s barangay elections was “the most peaceful” in recent years.

This could be attributed with only one candidate running for barangay chairman – re-electionist Yasser Pangandaman, 36. (With reports from Elena L. Aben, Ed Mahilum, Anna Liza V. Alavaren, Francis T. Wakefield, Edd K. Usman, Genalyn D. Kabiling, and AFP)

Police declare ‘peaceful’ polls in Manila By Jamie Marie Elona INQUIRER.net 5:06 pm | Monday, October 28th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The Manila police on Monday declared that the barangay (village) elections in the city as generally peaceful despite a minor incident involving two brothers.

Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo, MPD spokesman, said that except for a fist fight between the siblings, no other untoward incident happened within the area of MPD’s jurisdiction as of posting time.

The fight, he said, was a result of a heated argument between the brothers. The incident caught the attention of voters and security officers, but said that the area wasn’t at a polling place.

He earlier said they deployed enough police officers to man assistance desks in every polling place in Manila.

He said they also conducted check points in different parts of the city since Sunday evening as bar examinations were also held.

“The number of voters in a particular polling place was among the basis of the number of police officers deployed in a specific area,” Margarejo said.

At the Dr. Alejandro Albert Elementary School, Evangelina Escalera, Master Teacher 2 and overall coordinator for elections of the school said the poll started as scheduled without a hitch.

In an interview with Maximina de Guzman, 72, of Barangay (village) 510, she said some voters encountered difficulties when they were asked to present valid IDs first before they could vote.

Several elders interviewed, meanwhile, said they had a hard time going up the stairs to get to their assigned precinct.
Juana Cecilio, 80, of Barangay 512, said she experienced chest pains for having to climb the stairs.

“Akala ko sa baba kasi, senior citizen ako. Pero umakyat na lang ako,” she said.

Cecilio was still able to get to her polling precinct but didn’t have enough strength to write in her ballot anymore. She cast her vote with the assistance of a relative.

Same goes for Julieta Alina, 78, of Barangay 504. She said her knees were kind of shaking as she tried to get up the stairs.

 
VIDEO NEWS: GENERALLY PEACEFUL POLLS IN METRO MANILA


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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