CITY OF MALOLOS–Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando is not only campaigning for a second term re-election but is also strongly crusading to put an end to vote-buying which has long been a tradition in the province every election time.
Barely three weeks before the May 9 elections, Fernando expressed alarm over reports and tips he received about early vote buying activities being done by some candidates to nail their victory which he said destroy the integrity of suffrage and democracy.
Fernando divulged that a group of individuals wrote him a letter reporting the ongoing vote buying activities by key candidates.
Vote-buying had been rampant and bold in many towns in Bulacan since time immemorial involving key political figures and mayoralty candidates, the governor said.
He appeal to the more than 2 milion Bulakeño registered voters that it is now the time to end the illegal practice of selling their votes.
“While I am campaigning for myself and my whole ticket for the provincial and municipal level, I am also strongly advocating that our fellow Bulakeños once and for all junk the practice of vote buying. It is time this ill practice and system in our province ends,” the governor added.
Fernando along with other Bulacan officials and candidates from National Unity Party (NUP) vice gubernatorial running mate Board Member Alex Castro, provincial board member candidates Felix Ople, Teta Mendoza, first congressional district representative candidate Atty. Danny Domingo and provincial administrator Ann Constantino was joined by multi sectoral groups when he launched “Our Vote, Our Future,” anti vote-buying campaign on Wednesday.
“This campaign is launched today because of reports we receive that there were early intensified vote buying made by some candidates while others have massive plans just before the election,” the governor said.
“Ang paglulunsad rin na ito ay itinakda kontra sa mga napaunang ulat ng maagang pagbili ng boto at pagbebenta ng boto na nagdudulot ng napakalaking banta at hindi dapat hinihikayat sa anumang pagkakataon lalo na at nagpapakita ito ng pagwawalang-bahala sa demokratikong kaugalian at higit sa lahat, lubos itong nakakaapekto sa integridad ng lalawigan”.
Fernando said that he will remain vigilant and continue his anti-vote buying crusade in the few remaining days before the election to make sure the more than 2 million registered Bulakeño voters will not be illegally swayed in choosing their candidates but will only listen to what their heart and conscience say.
Fernando has earlier been bold and bulgar in his speeches about plans by many candidates in using GCash money transfer system to buy votes for the coming polls.
He called on each Bulakeño voter to report to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Philippine National Police, military and other government agencies who knew and witness candidates and their voters who are engaging into illegal vote buying to face necessary and appropriate charges.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, an accused suspect in vote buying can go to prison from 6 years to life imprisonment including perpetual disqualification to run for any government position .
“Sandaling maging matagumpay ang multi-sectoral anti-vote buying campaign, ay maging halimbawa sana ito sa ibang lugar sa bansa at magsilbing ambag sa walang humpay at walang kumpromisong pagsisikap na puksain ang talamak na pagbili ng boto sa panahon ng halalan,” the governor added..
A number of vote buying charges had been filed against some mayoralty candidates during the previous elections.