Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Malacanang's Command Votes=Bribery

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez should resign for violation of Omnibus Election Code. He justified it as an incentive for 12-0 Team Unity sweep in Iloilo City. Tell that to Marines Mr. Justice Secretary!

COMELEC: Bribe offer from DOJ chief a criminal act


A Commission on Elections official on Thursday said Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez violated the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) after promising to pay P10,000 to each barangay captain in Iloilo City who will be able to deliver a 12-0 sweep for the administration's Team Unity.

"In Section 261, Paragraph A of the Omnibus Election Code, there are three acts which are considered crimes: the act of giving, the act of offering and the act of promising. Kaya ang mere act of promising money eh crime na iyon eh (That's why the mere of act of promising is already a crime)," Director Ferdinand Rafanan of the COMELEC told ABS-CBN's "Magandang Umaga Pilipinas."

Quoting the OEC, Rafanan said the act of promising has four elements. He said it includes promising money to any person or community and inducing anyone or the public in general to vote for any candidate in exchange for cash.

Rafanan said the provision was used by the Supreme Court in ruling against a public official who promised to pay voters if they voted for him.

He said that if Gonzalez delivers on his promise, he would commit another violation of the Omnibus Election Code. "Kapag itinuloy niya ang magbigay (If he actually gives the money) that is another crime," he said.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, meanwhile, defended Gonzalez, saying that charges can be filed against the justice chief only if he actually delivers on his promise.

COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos said Wednesday that he has instructed the commission's law department to investigate Gonzalez's offer.

Abalos said COMELEC is planning to question Gonzalez about the P10,000 offer. He added that the poll body also wants to get the justice secretary's exact quote.

Meanwhile, Sergio Apostol, chief presidential legal counsel, admitted that while Gonzalez did not violate any election law, the public might think that the justice chief's statements are backed by Malacañang.

He added that Gonzalez's offer was "morally wrong."

"His only alternative is to keep his mouth shut but, knowing Raul, he will not keep his mouth shut. Magtrabaho na lang siya ng maganda (He should just work well) for Team Unity and deliver his goods not through media," Apostol added.

Gonzalez violated anti-graft law

Re-electionist Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Gonzalez may also be held liable for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

"The center of discussion is whether there was a violation of the Omnibus Election Code. We've forgotten that there is also the Revised Penal Code, which says if you offer a bribe that could be tantamount to attempted bribery," Lacson told DZMM.

He said Gonzalez as a public official may be charged with qualified bribery if he actually gives money to barangay officials.

Lacson said he might file an attempted bribery charge against Gonzalez. He added that any tax-paying Filipino can also file charges against the justice secretary for making the offer.

An official of Akbayan Iloilo had rejected Gonzalez's offer, saying that the votes of Akbayan members are not for sale.

"He can promise money, he can even promise to be sane for the rest of his life, but no, we will not allow our votes to be bought," Pert Supeña, Akbayan Iloilo spokesman, said in a statement.

"If he would promise that TEAM Unity would support the impeachment of President GMA or that it would denounce Charter change, then we might change our mind and vote for TU after all. Otherwise, it's no for the administration slate," he added.

Akbayan Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales said Gonzalez's statement was "an example of how embedded patronage is in our politics."

"People like him should resign or should not be in government if we want new politics," Rosales said.

Supeña said Akbayan Iloilo is putting up streamers in different barangays in Iloilo City saying, "Ang amon boto wala ginabaligya (Our votes are not for sale)". He also urged the provincial COMELEC director to conduct a parallel inquiry on Gonzalez's offer.

ABS-CBN 4/26/2007 at 11:45:18 a.m.)


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