The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it fully supports a bill declaring vote-buying as a heinous crime punishable by life imprisonment (reclusion perpetua), or 20 to 40 years of jail time.
Comelec acting spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said Comelec Chairman George Garcia backs House Bill (HB) No. 1709 or the Vote-Buying Act, as he recommended revisiting the law, particularly Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code.
“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,” Laudiangco said in a statement.
He said Malasakit at Bayanihan party-list Rep. Anthony Golez Jr. has filed House Bill (HB) No. 1709 considered vote-buying as a heinous crime, and would “send a strong message to the electorate and the would-be elected officials that Filipinos have had enough of vote-buying during elections.”
“Said re-definition will likewise pave the way for the conduct of better criminal investigation and case build-up, culminating to a more effective and efficient prosecution,” added Laudiangco.
The penal provisions of the bill include imprisonment of up to 40 years, fine of not less than P5 million, and perpetual disqualification from holding any public office.
“These modernized modes of vote-buying or selling are nefariously designed to exploit the inherent loopholes of the outdated provisions of law, and must be addressed without further delay,” he added.