BAYBAY CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senatorial bet Levito Baligod minced no words in saying the Liberal Party’s local candidates were buying votes in Baybay City, even in broad daylight on election day Monday, May 9.
“Now I have re-confirmed how matuwad (crooked) the yellow road is in Leyte. Our anti-vote buying volunteers confiscated bundles of stapled sample ballots with P20s to P500s, with the name of the voter. Systematic vote buying! To our countrymen, is this how these corrupt officials and candidates regard the value of our honor and democracy?” he said in a Facebook post.
In an interview with Rappler, Baligod recalled their encounter early in the morning of May 9:
“In Sitio Lopfa, Barangay Kilim, we were able to confiscate folded ballots, stapled with money, from one barangay official and four other ladies. If you look at the folded ballots, the names of the voter and their precincts are there.”
Baligod’s camp brought the women to the Baybay police station and put the incident on the police blotter.
“In fact, some of the voters who received the money will serve as our witnesses, that the barangay officials indeed gave it to them with the demand that they vote according to the ballot.”
Lawyer Levi Baligod, who is running for senator on an anti-corruption campaign, is currently in Baybay City to help in the mayoralty bid of his wife Marilou “Malot” Galenzoga-Baligod. She is running against incumbent Mayor Carmen Loreto-Cari, the aunt of former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla. (READ: Baybay City mayor cries foul over fake dismissal)
Baligod’s wife is running under Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). She ran and lost to Cari in 2013, in an election rife with riots, harassment and even an assassination attempt.
‘Systematic vote buying’
The lawyer claims they have also attempted to apprehend barangay captains buying votes in barangays Pangasugan and Sta. Cruz, but said they “would not want to unduly violate their right to domicile.”
“For a reasonable man, it is clear that vote buying is going on when we were there. We are documenting all of these incidents in preparation for the filing of cases. We intend to file a disqualification case against all the LP candidates in Baybay City, at the very least.”
He added: “I have been an election lawyer myself and I’ve been through several controversial cases. But this is the first time that I’ve witnessed vote buying in broad daylight. There is even a queue. They are queuing at the barangay captain’s house.”
The camp of Liberal Party bet incumbent Mayor Carmen L. Cari was not immediately available for comment, but said they would look into what happened.
Candidate files complaint vs admin bets in Dipolog
In Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, the opposition mayoral candidate filed a formal vote-buying complaint before the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Dipolog office against LP candidates.
Lawyer Francis H. Olvis, mayoral candidate of Alliance of Parties for Progress – Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (APP-PDP-Laban) submitted as evidence video clips and photographs of people lining up in alleged buying stations.
“The problem is that the Comelec and police seem to be reluctant in going after election violation made by LP, it’s frustrating,” Olvis said.
Dipolog Election Officer Lerdo Matildo Jr told Rappler that he forwarded Olvis’ complaint to the police.
However, an hour before the polls close, there was still no action on the part of the police, which Olvis said should have gone to the alleged “buying” stations.
Police Chief Inspector Charisse Yabo, spokesperson of the Zamboanga del Norte Police Provincial Command, said she had no information on the Dipolog Police Office’s action on the complaint. – with reports from Jed Cortes, Gualberto Laput, Prince Darius Lina, and Marvianna Lovella Gravoso/ Rappler.com
Jed Cortes, Prince Darius Lina, and Marvianna Lovella are Rappler Movers in Leyte.
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