Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday denied that she is encouraging the public to do vote-selling, but merely pointing out realities on the ground.
In a media briefing, Robredo, who is running for president as an independent candidate clarified her earlier remarks about vote-buying, which stirred discussions on social media sites.
“What I have said earlier was, vote-buying is wrong. However, it has been very rampant over the years here,” she said.
“We are aware of the law. We are not happy that this is not being enforced but our eyes should be open to the realities on the ground,” Robredo added.
She also pointed out that the lack of strong implementation of the law against vote-buying should be taken seriously by law enforcers.
“We do not condone vote-buying. In fact, we are one of those who have been fighting against vote-buying. But we’re asking the authorities to enforce this effectively,” she said.
Robredo recalled her experiences as a pro-bono lawyer wherein she filed cases against vote-buying, however, those cases were dismissed.
“What’s frustrating here is the lack of effectiveness of the implementation of the regulations against vote-buying,” she noted.
The statement came a day after Robredo was asked for advice on what the public should do if they are offered money in exchange for their votes.
The opposition leader said they should accept the money but vote according to their conscience.
“Vote buying is wrong, but I tell people, accept the money. I always say accept it since that also came from us. What’s being used to buy votes is also the money of the people,” she said.
Comelec: Vote buying is illegal
In an indirect response to Robredo’s remark, Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez reminded the public that vote-buying is still an election offense under the law.
I disagree with the notion of taking the money and voting according to your conscience. Vote buying is an election offense regardless of financial situation or noble intentions. Di dapat ginagawa, at di dapat sina-suggest yan sa mga botante.
— James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) October 26, 2021
“I disagree with the notion of taking the money and voting according to your conscience,” Jimenez said in a tweet.
“Vote buying is an election offense regardless of financial situation or noble intentions,” he added.
He also noted that vote-buying should not be tolerated nor suggested to the public.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, vote-buying and vote-selling are punishable with imprisonment lasting from one year to six years.