Barangay officials among 60 arrested for vote-buying in Makati

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2019 10:24 AM | Updated as of May 13 2019 05:30 AM

NCRPO Chief Guillermo Eleazar presents branagay officials arrested in Makati over alleged vote-buying. Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE)--Barangay officials were among 60 people arrested over charges of vote-buying and vote-selling in Makati City since Friday, the chief of the Metro Manila police said. 

In Barangay San Isidro, police arrested 8 persons including the village treasurer, secretary and administrative officer inside the barangay hall, said National Capital Region police chief Major General Guillermo Eleazar.

Police also recovered P410,000 divided into P500 bills from the suspects, along with lists of voters and precincts. 

Eleazar said police chiefs and station commanders were tasked to monitor several areas, and run after vote buyers and vote sellers. 

He said they received a tip that vote-buying was happening inside the San Isidro Barangay Hall itself.

"It just so happens na dito naka-jackpot tayo dito sa mismong barangay hall," Eleazar said. 

He said 52 others had been arrested since Friday for allegedly selling votes. 

The arrested barangay officials denied they were buying votes. They said the money recovered was for "outside watchers" or those tasked to give food to poll watchers and distribute sample ballots outside voting precincts. 

Eleazar said they will file charges against those arrested. 

"We will refer this not only sa Comelec pati na rin sa DILG," he said. 

Atty. Jose Solis, in a statement released early Monday, denied that village officials were engaged in vote-buying activity 

"The NCRPO made false and inaccurate statements against my clients," he said. "Contrary to the claims of the NCRPO, the 8 barangay officials and 52 individuals were not engaged in any purported vote buying activity."

Solis maintained that the money was intended for official purposes, including payment of the barangay payroll.

A list of watchers that was seized by police was also used to verify actual residents in the barangay, he said.

"It is unfortunate that the NCRPO has chosen to make sweeping and baseless allegations, which may be used by political interests who seek to mislead voters of Makati," Solis said.

"Worse, law-abiding citizens, a significant number of whom are senior citizens, remain detained and are at the risk of being denied their constitutional right to vote."