Bacolod City – The Commission on Elections is stepping up its campaign against vote buying in line with the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October 30, by activating the Regional Committee for Kontra Bigay in Western Visayas.
The Kontra Bigay Committee is a standing and permanent Committee under a whole-of-nation approach dedicated to providing an efficient mechanism and structure for implementing policies against vote-buying and vote-selling, according to a statement issued by the Police Regional Office Public Information Office.
Its membership is composed of representatives from the Comelec, Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police. Coast Guard, National Bureau of Investigation, Departments of Justice, Interior and Local Government, Education, as well as Information and Communications Technology, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, Philippine Information Agency, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), and Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
During its launch recently at Camp Martin Delgado in Iloilo City, the Comelec highlighted the Kontra Bigay functions and responsibilities, such as the establishment of complaint center, rules and regulations in connection with the disqualification of candidates for vote-buying and vote-selling, under Comelec resolution 10946.
Activities and acts that shall be presumed as vote buying and vote selling include possessing or delivery of any coins, notes, monies, cards, pay envelopes, bags, groceries, tokens or anything of value, together with sample ballots or other campaign materials in favor of or against a candidate; having long lines or queues of registered voters/persons for the distribution of money, discount, insurance or health cards, grocery items and such other goods, intended to be used to induce the persons to vote for or against any candidate; employing the “hakot” system or the gathering of two or more registered voters to a specific place before election day and on election day.
The Comelec is also implementing a money ban, prohibiting the possession, transport and/or carrying of cash exceeding P500,000 or its equivalent in any foreign currency, along with campaign paraphernalia and/or corroborating evidence during the period of two days before an election and on election day.
Comelec is likewise implementing an ayuda ban, wherein it shall be prohibited to give, distribute and receive any assistance or ayuda except those which are normally given to qualified individuals, such as food, transportation, medical, education, burial, and such other similar assistance during the campaign period, on the day before the elections, and on election day.
The Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) VI held its second command conference on Thursday last week in Iloilo City to ensure a smooth collaboration and coordination among law enforcement authorities, Comelec and other government agencies, during the conduct of 2023 BSKE elections on Oct. 30.
In a statement, PBrig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor, regional police director, said that the Police Regional Office 6 is committed to exerting all efforts and resources to ensure a peaceful and credible elections by intensifying police operations and anti-criminality campaigns to deter lawless elements from spreading threats, fear, and chaos during the election period.
Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, Army’s 3rd Infantry Division commander, said that the combat operations of the Philippine Army is continuous, and the troops remain highly committed to its mandate in ensuring the safe and secure conduct of the elections.
“Our combat operation is continuous, and we are pursuing the enemy. This operation is just part of clearing the area in preparation for the upcoming BSKE,” Sison also said.
Comelec regional director Atty. Dennis Ausan also encouraged candidates to follow the guidelines provided by the Commission to have an honest, orderly and peaceful election next month.
For his part. Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, AFP Visayas Command chief, also said that Viscom is bent on ending the local communist armed conflict in the Visayas region the soonest possible time.
“As the barangay and SK elections are fast approaching, we will not allow the CPP-NPA to use the upcoming electoral process as an avenue for their resurgence,” Arevalo also said. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)