BAGUIO CITY – The first-ever mutli-sectoral anti-vote buying campaign was recently launched in the city to help contribute in efforts to have an honest, orderly, peaceful, fair, inclusive and trustworthy elections during the conduct of the May 13, 2019 mid-term polls.
The simple launching ceremony was attended by representatives from government agencies, civil society groups, religious groups, academe, youth organizations and the candidates aspiring for different elected positions who committed to support in the anti-vote buying and anti-vote selling campaign to achieve the realization of a vote buying free city.
City Election Officer lawyer John Paul Martin claimed that Baguio city and Benguet were chosen as a pilot area for the launching and conduct of the multi-sectoral anti-vote buying campaign because of its history as a violent free city in terms of the conduct of the political exercises in the past, thus, its status must continue to be elevated as a vote free city in the future.
The election officer said that the overwhelming support shown by the various sectors and the candidates to the anti-vote buying campaign is an indication that there will be greater participation of the people in making sure that the upcoming elections will be honest, orderly, peaceful, inclusive, fair and trustworthy.
“We want to motivate our voters to be vigilant on the activities of the candidates who are aspiring for different elect3ed positions in the upcoming elections. We want that those who were really voted upon by the people are the ones who will be occupying the positions where they were elected,” Martin stressed.
The multi-sectoral anti-vote buying campaign is an initiative of the Commission on election (Comelec) in coordination with its partner government agencies, the multi-sectoral groups, civil society organizations, religious groups, academe, youth, media and the candidates themselves.
According to Martin, part of the campaign will be an aggressive voter education that will provide knowledge to the electorate on the important aspects of the elections and the action that are prohibited for them to be aware of what is being done in their surroundings.
He called on the public to report to the Comelec or the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies whatever activities of politicians and their supporters that will translate to vote buying so that appropriate charges will be filed against those who will be involved in the illegal activity.
The poll official explained that an individual found guilty of vote buying could be imprisoned for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of six years aside from perpetually being disqualified to hold public office and their right to vote and to be voted upon while a candidate who will be found guilty of vote buying will face perpetual disqualification to hold public office that will surely put an end to their political career.
Martin claimed that once the multi-sectoral anti-vote buying campaign in the city will be successful, other areas in the country will surely replicate the same in their areas to contribute in unrelenting and uncompromising efforts to possibly eradicate rampant vote buying in other areas of the country where the said activity is a usual thing during the conduct of elections.
By Dexter A. See