Posted at 05/10/2010 10:14 AM | Updated as of 05/10/2010 12:22 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has received reports of vote buying from "all over" as 50 million Filipinos went to the polls to cast their votes in the country’s first nationwide automated elections on Monday.
"Kagabi pa punuong-puno. Vote buying. Lahat, buong Pilipinas. Marami, it’s all over," PPCRV head Henrietta de Villa told radio dzMM in an interview.
De Villa said several PPCRV volunteers reported that voters were allegedly being paid between P1,500 up to P3,000.
She said the initial reports came from the Lingayen-Dagupan area in Pangasinan province, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Novaliches in Metro Manila, Surigao provinces and Ilocos Sur.
The PPCRV has also received reports of vote buying in Antipolo City in Rizal, in Maguindanao province, and in Batangas province.
Based on reports of PPCRV volunteers, local candidates appear to have deployed vote buyers in their rival’s bailiwicks and paid people not to vote.
"Nilalagyan ng indelible ink na ang daliri ang botanteng nabili nila ang boto. Basta huwag ka lang bumoto sa kalaban ko (They are marking the voters fingers with indelible inks to prevent them from actually voting. Just don’t vote for my opponent)," De Villa said.
Comparing their experiences with past elections, she said vote buying appears to be more prominent this time than reports about poll violence and problems encountered in the distribution of election paraphernalia.
De Villa said politicians could have resorted to direct vote-buying because it’s harder to cheat in automated elections.
Barred PPCRV volunteers
De Villa said they have also received reports that their volunteers are being prevented from entering polling centers in several provinces.
In Romblon province, she said their watchers have been banned from entering all clustered precincts in the province.
According to officials assigned to the polling centers, the provincial election supervisor of Romblon did not give them official notices that PPCRV watchers should be allowed to enter the voting precincts.
De Villa said the PPCRV is trying to coordinate with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to solve the problem.
"We will call [the Comelec] right away and tell them our watchers are being barred from entering precincts," she said.
She said they have deployed at least 1 million volunteers nationwide even before voting commenced at 7 a.m. on Monday.