Philippines: Comelec Dared to Probe Gonzalez ‘Vote Buying’

Apr. 25, 2007

MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel,
Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged Commission on
Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos to restrain Justice
Secretary Raul Gonzalez from making good on his plan
to reward P10,000 to each of the 180 barangay chairmen
in Iloilo City as an incentive for delivering a 12-0
victory for Team Unity senatorial candidates.

Pimentel said the monetary offer of Gonzalez is a
blatant act of vote-buying and bribery of voters in
gross violation of the Constitution and the Election
Code for which he can be liable for imprisonment even
if he claims that this will come from his personal
funds or whether the giving of the money materializes
or not.

He criticized Chairman Abalos for skirting the issue
and pretending as if he were an ignoramus on the
provision of the Election Code that will be violated.

If Comelec Chairman Abalos is not playing deaf and
dumb, he should investigate Secretary Gonzalez for
violating Article XXII, section 261, paragraph (a) of
the Omnibus Election Code, the opposition senator

Pimentel refuted Gonzalezs claim that he could not be
held liable for any violation of the election law by
pointing out that he is not a candidate and he is
using his own money. He said that while the justice
secretary is not a candidate, his son, Iloilo Rep.
Raul Gonzalez III is running for reelection.

Moreover, he said those who will receive the P10,000
bonanza are barangay chairmen who are in a position to
influence their constituents on how they will vote.

Fantastic. Secretary Gonzalez doesnt know the law.
Giving money for votes constitutes vote-buying even if
his own money is used, Pimentel said.

The minority leader said Gonzalez does not deserve to
stay in his post for his indiscretions and for either
not knowing, ignoring or misinterpreting laws that he
is supposed to apply in resolving legal issues and in
upholding justice.

Time to go Mr. Secretary. The longer you stay in
office, the more damage you cause to public interest,
Pimentel said.

Gonzalez has admitted that he offered the monetary
reward to barangay chairmen during a meeting at a
restaurant in Iloilo City to induce them to work for a
12-0 victory for Team Unity senatorial candidates.

Pimentel said the following provision of the Election
Code will be violated by Gonzalez on account of his
cash doleout plan:

Section 261 (a) of the Election Code states that a
person commits vote-buying if he/she gives, offers or
promises money or anything of value, gives or promises
any office or employment, franchise or grant, public
or private or makes of offers to make an expenditure,
directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be
made to any person, association, corporation, entity
or community in order to induce anyone or the public
in general to vote for or against any candidate or
withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or
against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a
candidate in a convention or similar selection process
of a political party.

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