Comelec backs bill declaring vote-buying 'heinous crime'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2022 02:10 AM

MANILA — The Commisison on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it "fully supports" the passage of a House of Representatives bill that seeks to declare vote-buying a heinous crime.

House Bill No. 1709 filed by Malasakit at Bayanihan Rep. Anthony Golez Jr. proposes to consider vote-buying as a heinous crime, increasing the penalty to between 20 and 40 years of imprisonment.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia described the bill and its intent "laudible," while also recommending to review Section 261 (a) of the Omnibus Election Code that tags vote-buying as an election offense. 

"This specific recommendation is made insofar as the updating of the definition of Vote-Buying and Vote-Selling, to be more attuned to current times and situations, particularly encompassing vote-buying/selling via online or over-the-air fund-transfers, internet cash transmittals and other analogous modalities," the poll body said in a statement.

The review and redefinition of vote-buying, Comelec said, will also "pave the way for the conduct of better criminal investigation and case build-up, culminating to a more effective and efficient prosecution."

"Chairman Garcia further stated that these “modernized” modes of vote-buying/selling are nefariously designed to exploit the inherent loopholes of the outdated provisions of law, must be addressed without further delay," it added.

"Chairman Garcia stated that he believes that the law will be more effective, and provide a more functional deterrent, if it includes an updated definition of said election offense in conjunction with the Bill’s proposed escalation of vote-buying as a heinous crime coupled with stiffer penalties therefor."

—report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News

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