MANILA – An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said the public should not be encouraged to accept money from those running for public office.
“I disagree with the notion of taking the money and voting according to your conscience,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a Twitter post.
“Vote buying is an election offense, regardless of financial situation or noble intentions,” he added.
Jimenez's remarks came after Vice President Leni Robredo, who is among presidential bets in next year's polls, said voters may accept money being offered to them but they should vote based on their conscience.
“It should not be done, and it should not be suggested to the voters,” he said.
Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code prohibits vote buying.
Vote buying is defined as any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public, in general, to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.
Those who will be found guilty of the election offense shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation.
Also, the violator shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. (PNA)