MANILA - Former Sen. Heherson Alvarez on Saturday withdrew his candidacy as representative for the 4th district of Isabela, citing alleged vote buying, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec)
Poll body election supervisor Michael Camangeg confirmed this to ABS-CBN News.
Camangeg said Alverez filed his withdrawal at 5 p.m. Saturday, two days before the midterm elections.
Alvarez, in a statement released by the Philippine Information Agency, lamented the "massive and overwhelming vote-buying" in the upcoming midterm elections.
"I cannot continue to participate in this political exercise that violates our precious political freedom of choice of leaders. This political abuse of our cherished freedom is now of wide public knowledge," he said.
"We must renounce it, denounce it and withdraw our tolerance or our democracy will wither away."
Alvarez, who ran under ruling party PDP-Laban, warned Filipinos against vote buying, which he said was "as destructive to our democracy as drug is as destructive to our physical well-being."
"Let us make those who undermine our free suffrage accountable to our laws and constitution. As the President has warned, we must seek to help penalize vote-buyers as we do to drug offenders.
"We must not tolerate them to occupy the honored government offices of power and responsibility that enable them to ham with impunity our national interest."
Alvarez served as senator from 1987 to 1998 before being elected as representative of the 4th district of Isabela from 1998 to 2001.
He also served as environment secretary under the Arroyo administration and as agrarian reform secretary under late President Cory Aquino.
Alvarez was running against former congressman Georgidi Aggabao and newcomer Sheena Tan. --With reports from Darlene Gemino, ABS-CBN News