Pimentel considers Senate probe in 'massive vote-buying' during May 9 polls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — Sen. Koko Pimentel is mulling at having the Senate investigate his allegations of "massive" vote-buying, including a supposed "computerized-assisted fraud" during the May 9 polls.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, Pimentel reiterated his call to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to fast-track its investigation and secure people who are willing to testify to prove these vote-buying schemes.

He noted that if the Comelec fails to address such complaints, he will ask the Senate the take action on the matter.

Last week, Comelec Commissioner Aimee Feroline said the anti-vote-buying Task Force ‘Kontra Bigay’ has so far received over 1,000 messages through Facebook and email, but many of the allegations are not backed by evidence, because no one was willing to testify before them.

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

"We have organized the government in such a way that there is a specialized agency," Pimentel said. "Kung sabihin ng specialized agency, ‘ayaw namin,’ (If that specialized agency refuses) then we have to do it as the representatives of the people. Kasi (because) it's an ill of society if our elections are reduced to a bidding war."

Pimentel said he will have to tap technical experts who can analyze the probability of "computerized-assisted fraud," by looking into programs of vote-counting machines, and whether certain votes can be tweaked and directed to another candidate.

Pimentel also noted that he has received reports of people receiving some ₱1,540 in exchange for their votes.

He said there needs to be a way to "break through the secrecy" and find out the mastermind behind such seemingly "perfected" scheme.

“I think (vote-buying) has been perfected as a scientific way," he pointed out. "There is a sample ballot with an attached bill… and then some—those who want to make sure, even add some small print outs with their names.”

Pimentel recommended that those who are willing to testify should be guaranteed protection by concealing their identity.

Ferolino earlier assured that those who sold their votes will be given legal immunity should they testify.