• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental Board Member Juvy Pepello, head of the provincial Liga ng mga Barangay, yesterday called for vigilance against vote buying and premature campaigning, in line with the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections slated for October this year.
Pepello, who attended the Women’s Health and other GAD matters forum organized by the Provincial Gender and Development Focal Point System held in Bacolod City, said that vote buying activities, if there are any, should be reported to authorities, supported with evidence.
The Commission on Elections is set the filing of candidacy for BSKE which is slated on August 28 to September 2, with the campaign period to be on October 19 to 28. Election day is on Oct. 30.
Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco, in a television interview said “We are cautioning everyone that anything of value, may it be an object, service or assistance, during a partisan political activity, in which they expect something in return, may be considered vote buying.”
Candidates were also reminded by Comelec that premature campaigning before Oct. 30 is prohibited, and the spending limit is P5 per registered voter.
Pepello admitted that giving anything, such as food or gifts, by candidates may also misconstrued by others as vote buying, as the givers may expect votes, in return.
Despite some problematic areas in Negros Occidental, as admitted by some local Liga presidents, Pepello said she still believes that the BSKE 2023 in the province will be generally peaceful.
As to possible intense political rivalries among BSKE candidates, she said it can only happen if 10 to 20 percent of barangay captains in a certain locality are not allies of the local chief executives, Pepello said.
But she noted that almost all barangay captains in Negros Occidental are aligned with their respective LCEs, she added.*