No willing witness in many vote-buying complaints, says Comelec exec

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) cannot conduct an investigation into several vote-buying complaints during the recent elections since no one is willing to personally testify.

In a media briefing on Saturday, Commissioner Aimee Ferolino reported that the anti-vote-buying Task Force ‘Kontra Bigay’ has so far received over 1,000 messages through Facebook and email, but that a lot of the allegations are not backed by evidence.

“Many of the reported vote buying incidents na dinulog doon, takot naman mag-testify, o walang witnesses, o walang ebidensya," she said.

[Translation: In many of the vote-buying incidents reported to the task force, people are afraid to testify, or there are neither witnesses nor evidence].”

Ferolino added that many complainants just point to viral social media videos showing alleged vote-buying without providing other information to track down offenders.

Others, meanwhile, simply messaged to express their frustration over the elections or send “insults” to the poll body, she said.

In total, Ferolino noted only 88 messages sent to the task force’s Facebook page and email have been considered as valid reports. Of this number, only 49 were submitted with supporting evidence.

Meanwhile, she bared that the Comelec's law department has also received 73 vote-buying complaints since Feb. 9.

She said 50 of these complaints have been acted upon, 12 have been docketed, while the remaining eight are under evaluation.

Ferolino said these complaints are still separate from reports lodged before local police.

Among them is a case in Cavite, where the commisioner said cash was supposedly distributed along with sample ballots.

She added that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is also assisting a complainant from Quezon City.

Acknowledging that some witnesses may fear legal repercussion, Ferolino assured that those who sold their votes are given legal immunity should they testify.

She also guaranteed protection for those who worry about their safety.

“Kailangan namin sila until matapos yung kaso na posibleng i-file [We need them until the case that could be possibly filed is resolved]," she said.

"And we have the PNP (Philippine National Police), we have people who will protect them," she added. "Sana wag silang matakot [Hopefully, they won't be afraid]."