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Comelec exec admits it’s helpless against vote-buying

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A ranking official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Oriental has admitted that vote-buying was a persistent problem of the poll body.

Provincial Election Supervisor Eliseo Labaria told clergy members of the Diocese of Dumaguete during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday that this was a problem which the Comelec cannot address all by itself.

“Mao gyud ni siya ang usa ka problema nga gabalik balik ra gyud ni siya hangtod karon gikan pa sauna (this is a perennial problem until today),” he said.

Labaria, a lawyer, was invited as guest speaker during the clergy meeting as the Diocesan Electoral Board (DEB) of the Diocese of Dumaguete gears up for its voters’ education campaign and other activities in line with the May 13, 2019 midterm elections.

Comelec is among the government agencies, non-government organizations and civil society groups that comprise the DEB, an accredited citizens’ arm of the poll body, to ensure clean, honest, peaceful and orderly elections.

During the first automated election in 2010, Labaria said there were reports that the voting machines used back then were not accurate and so the country should revert to manual voting.

But he noted that politicians seem to be the ones who did not want the automated elections “kay dili man sila makatikas (because they cannot cheat),” he said.

“Dili man makatikas ang machine mao nga ilang gibabagan ang automated elections (the machines cannot cheat and that is why they opposed the automated elections),” he said.

After the 2010 elections, many traditional politicians were no longer elected and were not able to make a comeback because of the automated election system.

The Comelec lawyer went on to say that until now, some politicians are still employing the same tactics and “attacks” the poll body so they can return to the political arena while pushing for manual elections.

And since they could no longer cheat during the automated polls “they focus now on vote-buying”.

The Comelec official asked the priests to focus their efforts on voters’ education against vote-buying.

He admitted, however, that “dili man gud nato na ma eradicate in one setting, taas-taas pa na (we cannot eradicate this in just one sitting, it would take time) but in my observation, our youth are now slowly being educated” about it and would no longer receive monetary or other considerations in exchange for their votes.

The DEB is tapping the parishes through their Parish Pastoral Councils, youth groups and chapel leaders for the voters’ education campaign, which will commence soon. (PNA)