Police have filed three cases against Ilocos Norte candidates running for village posts for alleged vote buying before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office here on Monday.
“We have received so many reports of vote buying and, so far, there are three complaints that we have filed to the Comelec,” Police Col. Julius Suriben, Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office director, told journalists in an interview.
He said two of the charges are from this city while the other is from Piddig town.
“All reports and complaints on vote buying are properly acted upon if you help us gather and provide [pieces of] evidence,” he said, noting that they have received around 10 election-related violations to date, with the other still under investigation.
To speed up the filing of cases, Suriben urged the public to direct their complaints related to the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections to the nearest police station instead of posting on social media.
“We have deployed quick reaction teams to verify and evaluate all reports that we received, even if sometimes we feel that some of these are just diversion(ary) tactics or they are just trying to mislead the police,” he said.
“This election is so far the most peaceful and we hope this continues until the election is over,” Suriben said.
Since the start of the filing of certificate of candidacy last August 28, the Ilocos Norte police has deployed at least 25 quick reaction teams to respond in case of emergency while security personnel have been deployed in areas of election concern.
Of the 559 villages in Ilocos Norte, the Comelec has recorded a total of 3,319 aspirants, 442,385 registered regular voters and 142,082 SK voters.
However, some villages in Batac City and Vintar town, among others, do not have candidates running for the position of Sangguniang Kabataan chairman and council members.
On Monday, at least two police officers have been assigned per polling center, manning at least 50 meters away to the polling precinct. They were issued handheld radios in case the polling places have no communication signal.
Meanwhile, Senator Ma. Imelda “Imee” Marcos, after casting her vote at the Cabeza Elementary School, reiterated her call to extend the terms of Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials for up to five to six years since the government continues to extend it nonetheless.
“What we always do is to extend their terms so it would be better if we revisit the law and extend their term by five to six years,” she said.
“For the SK, we should think of a system wherein there will only be one representative per barangay,” she added.
Marcos is the first national chairman of the Kabataang Barangay, which was created in 1975 and is aimed to give the youth an opportunity to express their views and representation. (Leilanie Adriano)
(Source: PNA Ilocos Norte)