Bohol multi-sectoral groups back PRRD fight vs. vote buying
By John Rey Saavedra
TAGBILARAN CITY – The multi-sectoral caravan supporting the goal of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to have a “clean” mid-term election on May 13 toured Bohol on Wednesday and engaged the townsfolk in mini-townhall meetings in five big municipalities of the province.
In his message during the opening program, Lawyer Leocadio Trovela, regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Region 7 (Central Visayas), urged Boholanos to support the President’s campaign for an honest balloting process, saying that “a vote of a poor and a vote of a rich” should be counted without any influence coming from politicians’ money.
“The right of suffrage is a number one political right. We need an advocacy like this, upang maipaliwanag sa mga mamamayan na huwag ibenta ang kanilang mga boto (so that we can explain to the people not to sell their votes),” he said.
Trovela urged voters to use the power of social media in reporting violations of elections laws, like vote buying and selling.
In a recorded message played in a public address system, Diocese of Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy said vote buying and selling is a root of corruption in the government.
“Kini usa ka buhat nga salawayon ug angay na gyud natong hunungon tungod kay kini ang usa sa hinungdan ngano nga aduna kitay korupsiyon (This is a condemnable act that we need to stop because this is one reason why corruption persists),” he said.
Uy said the people need to stand against an election influenced by money.
“Candidates in the election who will spend much for vote buying will work hard for the return of the money they spent if they win the election. There is a great chance for them to make more money to save for the next election,” the bishop of Tagbilaran said in Cebuano.
According to the prelate, the cycle of corruption will not stop if the election is rigged.
“In an election influenced by money, many will get voted even if they do not have the qualifications and love of service. And they know that through money, they can get the position that they want,” he added.
“Candidates who will win through vote buying will never have the inspiration to serve,” he noted.
“Moingon man sila ‘ako pay nigasto’g maayo patrabahoon pa ko ninyo’g sakto? Hayahaya gud mo!’ (They would tend to tell you ‘I spent so much to buy your votes and you want me to work hard? Lucky you!)
In another recorded message, Veronico Petalcorin, director of the Commission on Elections in Central Visayas, warned the electorate that those who will be found guilty of buying and selling their votes will face a penalty of one to six years of imprisonment.
Col. Julius Cesar Gornez, chief of the Bohol Provincial Police Office, urged the candidates in the province not to violate elections laws, especially by buying and selling votes.
Zafruella Jikiril, president of Al-Nasrie Bohol Muslim Community for Peace Movement, said there is no peace if this practice will persist in this year’s election.
Jikiril said politicians would tend to resort to killing each other just to defend their turf, bearing in mind the huge amount of money they spent in buying votes.
Capt. Jerry Leones, police chief of the town of Guindulman, said the electorate should also fight against “election day terrorism” and report to the police in case they are coerced to vote for candidates who are not their own choices.
More than 300 people including uniformed service personnel and representatives of various government agencies, civil society organizations (CSOs) and Muslim communities joined the caravan, according to Trovela.
The activity started with a short program at the Plaza Rizal, in front of the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker here, after which the participants on board various vehicles crossed five towns before stopping over at Jagna for a mini-townhall meeting with the residents.
After Jagna, the caravan proceeded to Guindulman for another engagement with the townsfolk before going to Ubay, then to the port town of Talibon.
In the afternoon, the caravan visited the town of Tubigon before going back to this capital city.
Aside from the DILG, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the Bohol Provincial Police Office, the 47th Infantry “Katapatan” Battalion of the Philippine Army, and the Comelec supported the event. (PNA)