Comelec chief backs bill seeking to declare vote-buying a heinous crime

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 10) — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Garcia “fully supports” the House bill seeking to declare vote-buying as a heinous crime, the poll body's acting spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Atty. Rex Laudiangco said Garcia is in favor of House Bill No. 1709, which was filed by Rep. Anthony Golez, Jr. and which seeks a stiffer penalty of 20 to 40 years imprisonment for offenders.

Currently, those who buy or sell votes may be jailed for up to six years and face disqualification from public office.

The commission also recommends updating the definition of vote-buying and vote-selling under the law for a more effective prosecution.

Citing Garcia, Laudiangco said the law should encompass such offenses committed via online or over-the-air fund transfers, internet cash transmittals, and other similar modalities.

This redefinition will lead to better criminal investigation and case build-up, he added.

“Chairman Garcia further stated that these ‘modernized’ modes of vote-buying/selling are nefariously designed to exploit the inherent loopholes of the outdated provisions of law, [and] must be addressed without further delay,” the spokesperson said.