BAGUIO CITY -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Baguio City is bound to erase the practice of vote-buying in this mountain resort city.
“Once we have the final list of the candidates, we will launch the multi-sectoral anti-vote buying campaign in the city to have a clean election," said lawyer John Paul Martin, Comelec election officer in the city, in a media briefing here on Tuesday.
It will be the first time that such a campaign will be launched in Baguio.
Martin said Comelec-Baguio will tap local government units (LGUs), media practitioners, schools, organizations, and other sectors of the community to help them with the campaign.
He said all the candidates will be requested to commit to a clean, honest, and peaceful election.
"There will be two aspects of this campaign, the first one is voters' education and the other one is legal assistance," Martin explained.
He said Comelec-Baguio hooked up with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in prosecuting violators of the anti-vote buying campaign. He defined vote-buying as soliciting votes in consideration for money or anything of value.
"Kung bibigyan kita ng candy at ako ay isang kandidato, (If I will be giving you a candy, and I am a candidate), definitely that is vote-buying,” Martin told the media.
He added that candidates giving food and non-food items during the campaign period are considered to be violating the vote-buying provision of the election code.
"Regardless of the value of that commodity, if its given in consideration of your election, that is definitely considered as vote-buying," he noted.
He said the campaign aims to protect voters from becoming victims of vote-buying.
"Apart from the campaign, we will also be launching the witness protection program, which will be anti-candidate. That is why we want to hook up with all the candidates, so they will not dare to resort to vote-buying," he said.
He said a pro-forma complaint will be made available to the public, in case they have knowledge of a vote-buying activity.
He said that while Comelec is faced with the reality of the difficulty of proving the intent of “giving”, it is hoping that the public will help it in the endeavor.
“Let us start here in our own city and change the paradigm of election from the cause of the candidates to public welfare,” Martin said.
He said Comelec-Baguio will be fielding watchers to witness the filing of certificates of candidacy starting on Oct. 11.
He also encouraged the media to witness it.
The election period starts on January 13 and ends on June 12 of next year.
The national campaign period starts from Feb. 12 to May 11 next year.
The local campaign period will run from March 29 to May 11, 2018. (PNA)