Speed bagal! Comelec commissioner laments slow probes on election complaints

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By Xave Gregorio

A Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner lamented how slow the poll body’s law department probes election complaints as reports of vote buying poured in during the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

“Ang bagal. Speed bagal naman ang investigation ng law department namin. Kaya ang nabe-blame dito ‘yung mga comissioners,” said Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon in a media briefing on Monday (May 14).

“Intindihin niyo rin po na napakarami ng trabaho, pero kailangan ring malaman nila na ‘yun ang reklamo ng mga tao,” Guanzon continued.

She was responding to an impassioned query by a man who identified himself as an “international blogger,” who also ranted at how slow complaints against vote buying are acted on.

The man was also reacting to a statement made by Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde, who said in Tagalog that vote buying is “expected” and “nothing new.”

Albayalde also reported that authorities have arrested suspected eight vote buyers in Region IV-A, including the towns of Lucena, Calamba and Calauan in the province of Laguna, and another individual in Taguig City.

Earlier in the day, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced that authorities busted a vote buying scheme in Aklan and that there were reports of vote buying in Samar, Region VI and in Central Luzon.

However, Albayalde dismissed the numerous vote buying reports as mere smear tactics by opposing political camps.

“Kasi one party will report the vote buying and then the other party would report the vote buying,” he said.

Newly-minted Comelec commissioner Socorro Inting also said she noticed that the resolution of cases in the poll body’s hands takes a long time.

“Siguro pwede naming pag-aralan how to solve this problem. Maybe we can increase our lawyers. That’s one solution and that means appropriation, but I think that’s the solution,” Inting said.

But Comelec commissioner Luie Tito Guia said going after vote buying, which is punishable by imprisonment of one to six years, disqualification from holding public office and stripping off the right to vote, is not solely the Comelec’s job.

“Vote buying and vote selling they are crimes. They can be filed not only with the Comelec,” Guia said.

“Ang mahalaga po ay testigo na magsasabing nangyari nga ‘yun,” he said.