Citizens, voters set; vote-buying caught

THE Cebu-Citizens Movement for Peaceful Elections (C-Cimpel) yesterday said that as representative of the Parish Pastoral Community Response Volunteers (PPCRV) and the National Movement for Free Election (Namfrel), they will receive a copy of the election returns in today’s midterm election.

Speaking before the press conference jointly held by C-Cimpel, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 and Dilaab Foundation, Marilu Chiongbian said that in terms of poll watching, C-Cimpel can cover 90 percent of Cebu City and Cebu Province.

Chiongbian said C-Cimpel witnessed the testing and sealing of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and those found defective were already replaced.

“We must be vigilant. Like human beings, the machines are not perfect. Let us not allow any person with bad intention to manipulate it,” Chiongbian said.

Fr. Carmelo Diola of Dilaab Foundation reiterated his call to the Cebuano electorate to vote in accordance with their own free will and not sell their votes.

“If a candidate has any self-respect and respect for voters, he would not buy votes. Why should people choose someone who does not even have a sense of self-worth?” Diola said.

“In addition, since buying votes entails debt, who in his right mind would want to go into debt? This is not “wais” (wise) unless one has plans of self-aggrandizement once in office. Now who in their right minds would want to vote for such persons?” Diola added.

Media center

The PRO 7 provided an Election Media Center (EMC) at Camp Sergio Osmeña Sr., Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City where reporters from radio, television and newspapers can get updates of today’s election.

Dubbed as “Cebu Media and Elections 2013,” the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) led the convenors in setting up the EMC with PRO 7 (as space provider), C-Cimpel (as advocate for peaceful election), Dilaab Foundation (as advocate for clean election) and the Comelec (as implementor of the election).

The convernors will hold press conferences at 10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

CCPC executive secretary Cherry Lim said two telephone landlines are installed by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) for the use of the media so that they will not use the landlines of the police.

Lim said that Wi-Fi connectivity is provided by Smart Communications, with backup PLDT
connection.

Vote-buying

Team Rama yesterday accused the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) of vote-buying.

Punta Princesa Barangay Captain Jose Navarro said former Punta Princesa village chief Rodulfo “Rolly” Diorico is distributing money at his house on Ganciang St.

“He led the massive vote-buying on behalf of BOPK. The vote-buying is expected to last at 5 p.m. (yesterday),” he said in a text message.

Navarro, an ally of Mayor Michael Rama, said he sent some of his men to check Diorico’s house and his men told him that a long queue of Punta Princesa voters were in the area.

However, BOPK chief Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) called the accusation against their group as “ridiculous.”

The congressman, who is running for mayor against Rama, said it was Team Rama who “bragged” that they have an unlimited budget for canvassers and who are encouraging their barangay coordinators to do “unlimited listing” of voters.

“People in Cebu City are intelligent and will never sell their votes. It’s a waste to try to vote-buy,” he added.

The buying and selling of votes is prohibited under Batas Pambansa 881 otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code.

Those who violate the law may be imprisoned for one year to less than six years and shall not be subject to probation. Those who will be found guilty by the court will be disqualified from holding public office and shall be banned from exercising his or her right to suffrage.

Naga City

Two alleged supporters of Naga City Valdemar Chiong were arrested for alleged vote buying in one of the city’s mountain barangays yesterday afternoon.

At 1:50 p.m. yesterday, operatives under the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 arrested
Rudy Obado, 40, and Marjun Geraldez, 20 after they were caught distributing money allegedly to buy votes in Barangay Lutac, one of the city’s mountain barangays.

Both men were residents of Barangay Lutac in Naga City.

But Chiong, in a separate interview, denied they were buying votes. He said operatives from PRO 7 were being sent in their city to harass voters.

A certain Insp. Burlat assigned in the PRO 7 had led the arrest of the two men, said

Naga City Police Chief Supt. Eduardo Saavedra.

Saavedra added that Burlat surrendered the two men and their motorcycle for custody.

However, Saavedra said that while the charge was based on alleged vote-buying, they didn’t receive the money used by the suspects to commit the crime.

In a separate interview, Obado admitted that they were bringing an envelope containing money, but they denied the allegation that they were caught in the act of giving it to supporters.

Obado revealed that he and Geraldez were onboard the latter’s motorcycle when they were suddenly stopped by two cars.

He also revealed that the men onboard the two vehicles had not introduced themselves as policemen and just suddenly accosted them for alleged vote-buying.
Chiong, in a separate interview, said they don’t need to buy votes since his party has the majority of voters.

However, Chiong claims that the Liberal Party was behind the sudden deployment of policemen in their city. Chiong is supporting One Cebu gubernatorial candidate Pablo John Garcia.

“I don’t want to blame anyone, pero mahibung lang ta nga mao nang mahitabu nga wala man nag-request ang Comelec for additional police augmentation sa among siyudad,” Chiong added.

Chiong’s statement was further supported by acting Naga City election officer and lawyer Ann Janette Lamban who claimed that she never received a written order from the PRO 7 for a sudden deployment of policemen in the city.

Discernment

Meanwhile, religious leaders remind people to discern, follow their conscience and consider the future of the country before they cast their votes today.

“Prayerfully discern as Catholics, take into consideration the Catholic values,” Fr. Ramon Echica, San Carlos Seminary Dean of Studies, told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said the Catholics are taught to cast a “conscience vote, which means that you have seriously thought about choices and prayed over them.”

In a separate interview, Imam Al-Mukri Aladdin Ubpon also issued an advice for the Muslim Community yesterday.

“My advice is that we will follow the teaching of our mind and heart not any amount of money,” said the imam and administrator of the Al-khaira Mosque in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.

Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Julito Cortes noted that there is much to do in Philippine politics.

“The late (Manila Archbishop Jaime) Cardinal Sin said, ‘politics in our country is the least evangelized aspect of the Filipino culture,’” Cortes said during a mass for C-Cimpel at the San Carlos Seminary yesterday.

“We pray and do what we can to contribute (to the work that needs to be done) that we may have an honest, and peaceful elections. So that it may yield leaders who are deserving of our trust,” he added.

The C-Cimpel core group attended the mass to pray for the conduct of a peaceful elections and the safety of more than 12,000 volunteers in various towns and cities in the Archdiocese of Cebu.
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