PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, May 13, does not see vote-buying as a threat, saying that such practice is common during election.
He said, however, that those caught buying votes should be "prosecuted to the full length of the law."
In a chance interview in Davao City, Duterte said he was confident that rampant incidence of vote-buying across the country would not disrupt the conducts of this year's midterm elections.
"Now, the practice of buying votes has been an integral part of an election in the Philippines. Iyang pag-boto, lahat iyan. Walang nag-bibili ng boto dito, maniwala ka? Walang hindi nag-bibili ng boto? Ituro mo kung sino ang hindi nagbili ng boto," Duterte said after he cast his vote at his designated polling precinct in a school in Davao City.
(Now, the practice of buying votes has been an integral part of an election in the Philippines. That's common. Would you believe no one is buying votes? No one is buying votes? Show me someone who is not buying votes.)
"That is what is just the ordinary -- the vote-buying and the violence there, violence here. But nothing of a big one that would maybe probably disturb the conduct of elections throughout the nation," he added.
The President vote' buying will continue to be a problem "as long as the Philippines remains a poor country."
"Mahirap iyang vote buying (Vote-buying is a problem). It can take many forms. Basta mahirap talaga iyan (It's really difficult to deal with), for as long as the Philippines remains to be a poor country, for as long as the feudal system exists, lalo sa (especially in) rural areas aggravated by the communists," he said.
"Well, ganito iyan (this is the case), if they are caught, they should be prosecuted to the full length of the law," Duterte added.
The President's latest statement came after he recently joked that Filipino voters should not believe the Comelec about vote-buying.
Vote-buying, an election offense, remains the biggest challenge, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted.
The Comelec, nevertheless, assured the public that its crackdown on vote-buying will continue.
Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde reported at least 79 vote-buying incidents at the onset of the May 13 midterm elections. (SunStar Philippines)