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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Fielding more than two precinct poll watchers is vote buying, Comelec says

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A candidate who hires more than two poll watchers in each clustered precinct is an act of vote buying, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) clarified on the morning updates of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE). 

According to the poll body’s Resolution No. 10946, candidates “hiring or appointing more than two watchers per precinct per candidate” is automatically presumed as vote buying and selling. 

“Kapag po kayo ay nahuli at napatunayan namin na nag-hire sa higit sa dalawa na watchers sa isang clustered precinct, kayo ay kakasuhan namin dahil ang presumption namin dyan ay kayo ang nagvo-vote buying,” said Comelec spokesman Atty. John Rex Laudiangco. 

[If you are caught and proven that you hired more than two poll watchers in one clustered precinct, we will file a case against you because that is a presumption of vote buying] 

Gone are the days that candidates may hire over 300 poll watchers, Laudiangco added. 

Candidates caught vote buying may face imprisonment, forfeiture of right to suffrage and perpetual disqualification to hold public office. 

According to the Comelec spokesman, the electoral boards per precinct will only receive two appointment letters of poll watchers for each candidate. 

Laudiangco issued the reminder following reported incidents in the morning of BSKE wherein poll watchers presented candidate-issued IDs instead of appointment letters to the electoral board. 

“Ayon sa ating rules, ang kailangan ipresenta mo sa ating electoral boards para ikaw ay maging watcher at papasukin sa precinct ay ang duly notarized appointment paper,” said Laudiangco. 

[According to our rules, you need to present a duly notarized appointment paper to the electoral boards for you to become a watcher and be allowed inside the precinct.]

The appointment paper must also be signed by the candidate and the watcher, he added. 

“Hindi ‘yung [candidate-issued] ID ‘yung appointment [The candidate-issued ID will not serve at the appointment],” said Laudiangco.

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