Comelec exec says Central Bank has power to police 'e-vote buying'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2021 05:13 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2021 05:40 PM

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon speaks to the media after formal ceremonies for the proclamation of incoming Partylist Groups by the Commission on elections (Comelec) at the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City on May 22, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon speaks to the media after formal ceremonies for the proclamation of incoming Partylist Groups by the Commission on elections (Comelec) at the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City on May 22, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Tuesday it remains vigilant against threat vote-buying via digital methods, but added the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) holds jurisdiction and capacity to police such illicit transactions. 

In a webinar organized by New Era University, Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the poll body has tackled the issue of electronic vote buying amid the migration of transactions digitally due to the pandemic. 

"Diniscuss ko yan sa en banc na it's really possible they will use G-Cash, PayMaya, even hulog-hulog sa Palawan [Express]. But as I've said the Central Bank (BSP) ang may power diyan at jurisdiction," Guanzon said. 

The commissioner, who will retire in February 2022 or months before the national elections, said the Comelec is ready to elevate such complaints to the BSP, which she said has the technology to dissect electronic fiscal transactions.

"Pag yan ay naging complaint ay iaakyat yan ng Comelec sa Bangko Sentral kasi sila ang kaka-trace nyan eh. Itatago nila (perpetrators) yan by several layers of accounts... Spread siya so di mo makikita san nanggaling. But BSP has a very intelligent computer and they have the capacity to do this," she said.

Guanzon said electronic vote-buying can be considered an electoral sabotage offense because it makes foreign intervention easier to execute. 

"Hindi yan ordinaryong vote-buying kung electronic means na. Ibig sabihin kahit taga-ibang bansa puwedeng bumili ng boto... If we allow that foreigners influence our election, that will be the end of us all, yan ang katapusan ng Pilipinas. Hindi ako papayag dyan," Guanzon said. 

Under Philippine laws, electoral sabotage is considered a special election offense that carries the penalty of life imprisonment.

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