The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said that Vice President Leni Robredo cannot be held criminally liable for her remark that voters can accept the money offered by candidates but must vote according to their conscience.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that he does not see any criminal liability on the part of Robredo arising from her remark that, seemed to justify vote-buying.
“I don’t see any liability for her now. I think it is not something that should have been said, but in terms of criminal liability, I don’t really see it,” Jimenez said.
He was referring to the vice president’s comment in a forum with household workers earlier this week, where she was asked for advice on those who would encounter vote-buying incidents.
Robredo said that she believes vote-buying is wrong, “but looking at realities on the ground, it happens.”
Jimenez emphasized that if Robredo shall be held criminally liable, then it would mean that the poll body would also have to investigate all political aspirants who made similar comments on the issue.
“I would say, then we would have to probe everyone who said that. Remember it’s not just one person who said that, multiple candidates have actually said that. So do we probe every one of them?” Jimenez said.
He admitted that political parties can use any defense to their advantage, especially if there’s no concrete evidence of their intent to buy. Any candidate who gives money during the campaign period, on the other hand, will be examined, he said.