Buying Votes

Mr Bitong Bigote of Barangay Bitok, municipality of Budol filed his certificate of candidacy (cOc)
for Punong Barangay (PB) for this years’ Barangay and SK Elections (BSKE). Exactly two days before the
end of the campaign period, he engaged the services of one Billy Bevillame, a television personality,
famous for the latter’s noontime TV show called the Bowowee.
During the scheduled rally in Barangay Bitok which Billy Bevillame was hosting, many guests
were present. Mr. Bitong Bigote, plump and heavy, was also on stage sitting comfortably on his sturdy
chair, stroking his thick, overgrown, untidy mustache. While the crowd appeared to be enjoying since
they were being entertained, Billy Bevillame openly endorsed the candidacy of Mr. Bitong Bigote for PB.
Later on, while the show was about to end. Billy Bevillame was seen, distributing envelopes purportedly
containing cash to the guests. These were seen by the rivals of Mr. Bitong Bigote. These rivals, took
pictures of said distribution together with video footages of the event. Soon, a case for vote buying was
filed against Mr. Bitong Bigote with the allegation that the envelopes containing cash were distributed
to induce the voters to vote for him in violation of Section 261 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code.
Is Mr. Bitong Bigote liable for vote buying?
Answer: The facts above are similar to the recent case of Rodriguez and Defensor vs. Comelec, et. al
(January 10, 2023). Mr. Bitong Bigote is not liable for the offense of vote buying. There is no sufficient
evidence as aptly stated in the case cited. “It is not supported by affidavits of complaining witnesses
attesting to the offer or promise by or of the voter’s acceptance of money or other consideration from
the relatives, leaders or sympathizers of a candidate” as required under Section 28 of the Electoral
Reforms Law. The absence of supporting affidavits shows the frailty of petitioners’ Complaint Affidavit
and makes it vulnerable to dismissal.”
For the proper prosecution of vote buying cases, Section 28 of RA 6646 (The Electoral Reforms
Law of 1987) requires the execution of affidavits of witnesses who saw the actual giving or offering of
money or anything of value. The person/s who received said money in exchange for votes could also be
the complainant, in this case, he or she will be immune from suit since the law encourages the
prosecution of vote buying cases. Thus, “Submission of self-serving statements, uncorroborated audio
and visual recordings, and photographs are not considered as direct, strong, convincing and indubitable
evidence.” (Rodriguez and Defensor vs. Comelec, January 10, 2023).
It now follows that the complaint against Mr. Bitong Bigote must be dismissed.

****Statement/s or comments herein mentioned are made by me in my personal capacity as a lawyer
and not as an employee of the Comelec.



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