Comelec asks Congress: Define vote-buying

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson George Garcia on Tuesday requested Congress to define vote-buying properly after a measure making it a heinous crime was introduced by Malasakit and Bayanihan Party-List Representative Anthony Golez.

In a radio interview, Garcia said that Congress should enumerate the acts to be considered as vote buying.

“For these proposed penalties against vote-buying to be effective, we should define it properly. We should enumerate the acts that will be considered vote-buying in our current times,” he said.

Garcia stated that the Omnibus Election Code may no longer be effective in punishing emerging types of vote-buying.

“At the time, they cannot buy votes using online means and platforms and it is not considered vote-buying yet. Therefore, the definition of vote-buying in our current law is no longer effective,” he said.

Vote-buying is described in House Bill 1709 as “providing and offering money or anything of value, including the promise of employment in any post, and awarding a private or public contract in return for votes during elections.”

Buyers and political parties found guilty of vote-buying might face 20 to 40 years in prison, a fine of less than P5 million, and a lifetime ban from holding public office under the proposed legislation.

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