CEBU, Philippines — Despite technical glitches in election machines, vote buying allegations, and reported violence, yesterday’s elections in Central Visayas was successful, the Police Regional Office – 7 said.
“We can already declare based on our records from the different police stations there is no failure of elections. Very successful. Awesome,” Police Regional Office – 7 Director Debold Sinas told the press last night.
Police Major General Rolando Felix, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in the Visayas, echoed Sinas’ assessment.
“The election in the Visayas is generally peaceful with no failure of elections so far,” Felix said.
The police were able to arrest 122 individuals for violating the liquor ban. Of this number, 67 are from Cebu City, 47 from Cebu province, and eight are from Bohol.
Sinas said there were reports of harassment and vote buying but these were reportedly acted upon immediately.
“Those nakita na reports are minor. It never swayed the success of the elections. It is just part of the exercise that is why we are answering complaints and referrals,” Sinas said.
He also said there were also several reports that were not backed with evidence or an official complaint.
There were 120 reported cases of vote buying: two in Cebu City; three in Cebu Province; two in Bohol; one in Negros Oriental and one in Siquijor.
Nine were arrested: five in Cebu City, one in Negros Oriental, and three in Cebu Province.
The police confiscated a total of P21,270.
In Barangay Mabolo in Cebu City, candidate for councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid was forced to issue a statement after allegations of vote buying at the barangay hall surfaced.
Mabatid, the barangay captain, denied the accusations. She said their mayoralty candidate, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, specifically instructed them not to do so.
“Dili gyud na tinuod kay, usually, kanang vote buying, inig ka gabii man gyud na mahitabo. Pero sa amoang barangay, wala gyu’y vote buying; ang kaatbang lang naa’y kisaw kay ang ilahang supporters nagtapok-tapok. Ang sa Partido Barug PDP Laban. wala gyud kay it’s the order of our standard bearer, Edgar Labella. No vote buying gyud dinhi sa barangay Mabolo (That’s not true. Usually, vote buying happens at night but it did not happen in Mabolo. It was the other camp’s supporters that caused a commotion. In Partido Barug PDP Laban, that never happened because our standard bearer, Edgar Labella instructed us not to engage in such),” Mabatid said.
Also yesterday morning, a 66-year-old woman, an alleged coordinator of Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, was arrested in Barangay Lorega San Miguel for allegedly buying votes.
Police Captain Armando Labora said they confiscated a list of voters, BOPK flyers, a mobile phone, and cash amounting to P1,300 from Andrea Fernandez.
Fernandez is a resident of the barangay.
Labora said a tip from a concerned citizen prompted them to go to Sitio San Miguel to verify the information and there, they reportedly caught Fernandez in the act of offering money to four voters to encourage them to vote for BOPK candidates.
The four voters reportedly fled immediately upon seeing the cops arrive.
Fernandez reportedly admitted receiving the money from BOPK yesterday morning but she reportedly did not recognize the people who gave it to her. She said she was supposed to give the money to her friends for “fare”.
The police will file a formal complaint against Fernandez today for violating election laws.
BOPK leader, Mayor Tomas Osmeña, said he does not know who Fernandez is.
“BOPK nag-vote buy? Let our lawyers handle that. I saw the name. I don’t even recognize the name,” he said.
In Danao City, lawyer Mike Enriquez brought Jose Cane, the barangay captain of Looc, to the police station by virtue of a citizen’s arrest for alleged vote buying.
Danao City Police Station chief Maribelle Getigan said charges will still be filed against Cane.
Atty. Ian Kenneth Lucero from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-7 said elective officials caught vote buying will not only face criminal cases but also administrative charges.
“Vote buying is an election offense under the Omnibus Election Code. If a local elective official committed such offense, an administrative case may also be filed against the perpetrator in addition to the criminal case for the election offense. The administrative case to be filed is in violation of the Administrative Code, Republic Act 7160 and the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act (if SK official). Such offense constitutes misconduct,” he said.
Meanwhile, technical problems with the vote counting machines (VCM) and the Voter Registration Verification Machine (VRVM) delayed voting in several precincts in Cebu province on Election Day yesterday.
Acting provincial election supervisor Jerome Brillantes said the common problems encountered included a dysfunctional LCD with the VCM, paper jam, and corrupted SD cards.
Members of the Electoral Board or the technical staff at the polling place had to perform contingency measures like basic troubleshooting.
As far as the VRVM is concerned, Brillantes said it wasn’t a perfect machine and yesterday was, in fact, the pilot test.
Several precincts had to resort to manual verification through what is called the election day computerized voters list (ECVL).
Ma. Luisa Chiongbian, executive director of the Cebu Citizens Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation (C-CIMPEL), said they also received the complaints of malfunctioning VCM’s and VRVMs.
What concerned her more, however, were the persistent reports of vote buying.
In Barangay Paril, the motorcycle of barangay tanod Anniber Enriquez was burned down at past 7 a.m.
Paril captain Nerrisa Doncillo said the suspects were unidentified as of yesterday but she suspects that the incident was politically motivated. She said they sighted uniformed men in the barangay since last week.
Doncillo said the police allegedly tried to intimidate them by harassing supporters of BOPK.
“Sa niaging semana, ang atong mga tanod nidagan sa sapa naghinapaay kay ang mga police nga niari sa barangay, nang-harass. Naa ko’y CCTV footage. Akong i-compile tanan, ihatag nako sa mayor aron makita niya ang panghitabo (Last week, our tanods ran to the creek and hid there because cops came to the barangay and harassed them. I have CCTV footage. I will compile everything and turn over to the mayor so he can see what happened),” she said.
At 3 p.m. yesterday, unidentified armed men ransacked the barangay hall in Apas.
Apas councilman Nico Ballesteros said they had no idea who the suspects were. He asked the police to secure the barangay.
“Kana (motives) sad wala mi idea kay sa barangay hall, wala man mi gibuhat lain, volunteers ra ang naa didto (We don’t know why they did it because we were not doing anything at the barangay hall. Only volunteers were there),” he told The FREEMAN.
In Barangay Tangcasan Norte, Loay in Bohol, two men identified as Lucas Wate and Michael Gaslang who were riding a motorcycle were waylaid by a group of unidentified men who were riding a black SUV.
Based on the victims’ accounts, they came from Purok 7 to visit the party supporters of mayoralty candidate Hilaro Ayuban when they were met by the unknown men.
The men accordingly blocked their path, mauled Gaslang, and shot Wate. The suspects fled after the attack.
Wate was brought to a hospital for treatment.
Sinas has ordered an investigation into the incident.
“Those are isolated incidents and we cannot count them as election related yet, imbestigahan usa nato,” Sinas said.
Osmeña slammed the police for the incidents of violence that happened in Cebu City.
He also slammed Cebu City Police Director Royina Garma for arresting his supporters who were distributing sample ballots outside polling centers.
“We’re going to file charges against her. Pili-pili ba. Putting our young SK officials in jail? Now they cannot even vote?! This is the kind of values that she’s bringing with her? Is this the kind of values that she’s teaching our youth? Why don’t you pick on me? Why do you pick on our youth? Why do you pick on our SKs? What is she trying to prove? Siga siya?” the mayor told reporters after casting his vote at Guadalupe Elementary School.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen. This is not about me. If you see tanods and their wives, that’s not just harassment. That’s murder. You call it harassment, that’s a very mild word,” Osmeña added.
Osmeña said the ransacking incident in Apas barangay Hall is just a mild case compared to the incident wherein tanods were “murdered.”
“If you connect all the dots, that’s a clear pattern of trying to control the police, using the police for politics,” he said.
The mayor believed that the “harassment” will stop after the midterm elections as there are officials who are talking about revolutionary government, adding, that Cebu may be targeted as the experiment in trying to force the kind of government that these officials want the people to follow. – JMO (FREEMAN)